Mud. Eccentric characters, a mysterious stranger, a wide river, a boat stuck in a tree and two unsupervised teenage boys — that’s a recipe for thrills in this mature-themed but teen-worthy Mark Twain-esque adventure. Ellis and Neckbone are best pals. The boys take a motorboat to a supposedly uninhabited island to scope out a boat caught in a tree. Then they find a drifter named Mud who has been living in it. The boys learn that he’s hiding out because he killed a man for hurting Juniper, the woman Mud has loved since childhood. The bounty hunter dad of the murdered man and his surviving sons come looking for Mud. For Ellis, deeply upset because his own parents plan to separate, Mud’s love for Juniper is precious. But as often happens, the adults fail to meet Ellis’s high ideals.
THE BOTTOM LINE: There is a lethal shoot-out, though none of the deaths are depicted graphically. One child sustains a life-threatening snake bite. The boys use the S-word a lot, and the script includes some crude sexual slang. Ellis punches an older boy to protect his school crush. The boys pull a thug off of Juniper, and Ellis gets a black eye. Bruises on Juniper’s face indicate she has been abused. Ellis’s dad drinks. Mud gives the boys a gun but removes the bullets.
No Place on Earth. An extended family of 38 Jews in western Ukraine escaped Nazi roundups and death by hiding in caves. This gripping and emotional documentary could fascinate teens with a taste for history or a connection to the Holocaust. New York State Investigator Chris Nicola, a dedicated caver, found artifacts in a cave in western Ukraine and began to research what happened there. His project captured the interest of filmmaker Janet Tobias. She includes interviews with surviving members of the Stermer family and films them as they revisit their hideout more than 60 years later.
The bottom line: The film reenacts very little violence, but in one scene, German soldiers raid the first cave the families lived in and take some people away. In another scene, a military officer shoots two captured family members after having promised to let them go.
Oblivion. Sci-fi-loving teens will get thrills from this striking, yet convoluted, film. In a voice-over by the protagonist, Jack, we learn his memory was wiped clean. It is the year 2077. Jack lives and works alongside his lover, Victoria, on a tech station just above the Earth’s atmosphere. The Earth was destroyed in a war with alien invaders called Scavs. Humans have had to abandon the planet for a colony on Saturn’s largest moon. When a space ship crashes onto Earth, Jack rescues the lone survivor, Julia. She tells him they have a past connection, and he is inclined to learn the truth for himself. But amid so much ear-shattering music and computer-enhanced imagery, those details are never clear.
The bottom line:
There is little graphic violence, but a lot of loud aerial warfare and gunfights. One swimming scene involves backview nudity. Jack and Victoria work together, and also share a bed in their station. The script includes rare profanity.