Family Filmgoer reviews ‘Sleepwalk With Me,’ ‘Lawless,’ ‘The Possession’ and ‘Premium Rush’

PG-13

The Possession. Despite its moderate PG-13 rating, this thriller about a 10-year-old girl possessed by a demon could prove too intense for many middle-schoolers. It’s not that the depictions are so graphic, it’s the creepiness factor. In the prologue, an older woman tries to destroy a mysterious wooden box and gets badly hurt. Supposedly based on a true story, “The Possession” recounts the horrors that ensue after a girl named Em buys the box at a yard sale with her recently divorced dad, Clyde. Em opens the box to find dead birds, dried moths and a ring that turns her finger black. Her bubbly personality darkens. Clyde learns the antique box has been used to capture evil spirits by certain ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects since medieval times.

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THE BOTTOM LINE: Creepy images abound — strange fluttering moths fly out of little Em’s mouth, fill her room and terrorize her father and older sister. Sometimes Em’s eyes roll back and a low voice comes out of her. She even sees fingers deep inside her throat. Adults invaded by the demon suffer bizarre contortions. The dialogue includes occasional profanity.

Premium Rush. A seriously fun thrill ride, “Premium Rush” will give teen filmgoers something to talk about. It has adrenaline-pumping chases and a nasty villain, yet with one or two brief exceptions, the film maintains its PG-13 cred. Wilee is a Manhattan bicycle messenger assigned by his dispatcher to transport an envelope to a Chinatown address. Nima seems unusually nervous. We learn that the contents of the envelope have to do with a Chinese financial group and a personal matter. Just as Wilee heads off with the envelope, he’s waylaid by a plainclothes police officer, Bobby Monday. Wilee races off, with Monday giving chase in his car.

The bottom line: Michael Shannon’s bad cop is scary, because it’s clear he’ll do anything to get that envelope. He beats one of his gambling creditors to death in one intense, but not heavily graphic, scene. The chases are breathtakingly real, and the way Wilee actually visualizes potential crashes at tricky intersections is chilling. The script contains midrange crude language, profanity and a racial slur.

The Apparition. Only younger teens are likely to shiver in their shoes at this pallid thriller, and it’s okay for them to see. High-schoolers may get bored. In a prologue, we see three college students try to contact the spirit world. One of their cohorts is pulled through to the Other Side. Cut to a subdivision in the present day, where Kelly and her boyfriend, Ben, are moving in. Furniture starts shifting and they hear odd noises. Ben takes a really long time to tell Kelly about that college experiment he was part of. Then his former classmate Patrick tells them that the spirit released in college has decided to haunt Ben.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Besides making furniture move about, the angry spirit creates gross-looking mold in the house and causes a neighbor’s dog to die (not graphic). Its human victims are sometimes sucked through walls. The language is mild. A shower scene hints understatedly at nudity, and one long sequence has Kelly wearing only her underwear while trying to flee the spirit.

Sleepwalk With Me (Unrated). Unrated, but quite PG-13-ish, “Sleepwalk With Me” is a slightly fictionalized tale told by real-life comedian Mike Birbiglia about his early career and how his fear of marriage led to dangerous sleepwalking accidents and the end of a relationship. Okay for most teens, the film is more likely to entertain college-age moviegoers and fans of young comics. “Sleepwalk With Me” is narrated by Birbiglia, playing a comic named Matt Pandamiglio. His relationship is stalled, as is his non-career. The couple gets engaged anyway. About the same time, Matt starts sleepwalking. He also lands an agent and gets a few college gigs. When he riffs on his fear of marriage, audiences start to respond, and he shifts his comic focus to his own life. It rescues his career, but not his relationship.

The bottom line: Characters drink, smoke and use mild profanity. The film includes a couple of very mild sexual situations, including one in which Matt starts to cheat on Abby.

R

Lawless. This tale of bootleggers in Prohibition-era Virginia will sweep film buffs 17 and older into its world and hold them there. In gangster movie tradition, however, the film is exceedingly violent and not for the faint of heart. World War I veteran Forrest Bondurant and his brothers make their living selling illegal moonshine. No one messes with them until a crooked lawman shows up. A war erupts.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The violence in “Lawless” earns an R and then some. The film includes bloody, deafening shootouts and stabbings, as well as fires, explosions, brass-knuckle fights and other bashings. The rape of a woman by two gangsters is strongly implied. And there is a consensual sexual situation that is not explicit. The dialogue includes strong profanity.

The Expendables 2. Action-movie aficionados 16 and older will find more than enough heavy gunfire, explosions and macho banter in this sequel to satisfy them, despite the cast’s advanced median age. The mayhem involves much spattered blood, so the film is problematic for under-16s. Sylvester Stallone returns as special-ops mercenary Barney Ross. In a prologue, he and his team rescue an old compadre from captivity and torture in Nepal. After that, Barney’s CIA contact sends him on a mission to retrieve stolen plutonium from a villain.

The bottom line: The action film features multiple gun battles and explosions, as well as martial arts combat and fights. The blood flies, but the gore really isn’t graphic for an R-rated film. Characters use occasional profanity, and there is mild sexual innuendo.

Horwitz is a freelance writer

 
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