Going Out Guide’s family movie reviews
By Jane Horwitz,
6 and older
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (PG). There’s little poetry in this 3-D animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s save-the-trees parable, but it’s great fun for kids 6 and older. Twelve-year-old Ted lives in Thneedville, a walled city devoid of any plant life. Everyone is happy with artificial trees. But Ted worships the lovely Audrey, a teen in love with the idea of real tufted truffula trees that used to grow there. They are no more, thanks to industrialization, and the evil mini-tyrant Mr. O’Hare means to keep it that way. Ted’s grandmother tells him to ride his motorbike out of town to find the Once-ler, a grizzled hermit who can tell Ted what happened to the trees. The Once-ler recounts how, determined to be a success, he invented the “thneed,” a multipurpose scarf made of the tufts atop truffula trees. The Lorax, a furry spirit who spoke for the trees, tried to persuade the Once-ler and his greedy family to ease up, but they stripped the valley bare. Now the Once-ler regrets what he did.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The bad guy O’Hare has two goons who loom large and might scare kids younger than 6. But nothing is really too scary here, even in 3-D.
Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds. Teens who like more intimate personal dramas might be pulled into director/star Tyler Perry’s world. He plays Wesley Deeds, the soft-spoken millionaire CEO of a San Francisco software company. He lives with his fiancee, who finds Wesley sweet but predictable. His brother, Walter, is a loose cannon with anger issues who works at the family business. Their mother is a grande dame who favors Wesley and wishes Walter would shut up. Then there’s Lindsey, a single mom in dire financial straits who works on Deeds’s office building’s cleaning crew. Lindsey was evicted from her apartment and now lives in her car. This is no life for her adorable 6-year-old daughter, Ariel. Wesley becomes far more involved than he expects to.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The movie includes one semi-explicit sexual situation that is fairly steamy for a PG-13. The script features rare midrange profanity and sexual slang. Characters get into a fistfight and make verbal references to promiscuity. In one upsetting scene, family services personnel take Lindsey’s daughter away.
Gone. This thriller starts off reasonably intriguing and may well draw in high-school-age audiences. (It’s a little too intense and fraught for middle-schoolers.) Jill, who lives with her sister Molly, is on anti-anxiety and anti-depressant meds because she was either abducted by a serial killer from whom she escaped or she had a mental breakdown and imagined all that. When she comes home from her waitressing job and Molly isn’t there, Jill becomes convinced that the guy who abducted her is back.
The bottom line: The script includes midrange profanity and crude sexual innuendo. There is subtle sexual innuendo involving the idea of a serial killer who abducts young women, but it is not explored. Scenes of fighting, car chases and gunplay are intense, but not graphic. At one point we see what might be skeletal remains of victims.
Undefeated. High-school-age sports fans 15 and older who like true stories about people who triumph over adversity will be drawn into this documentary, which just won an Oscar. Filmmakers Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin followed the 2009-10 season of the struggling Tigers football team at inner-city Manassas High School in North Memphis. The film focuses on the sweet-natured and gifted athlete O.C., who lives part time with an affluent white family in East Memphis for tutoring; the academically strong, athletically less stellar Montrail, whose knee injury threatens his chances of getting into a good college; and Chavis, a smart kid with a criminal record and a temper. Central to the story is their volunteer coach, Bill Courtney, a prosperous family man who grew up without a dad and who worries that his intense dedication to their welfare means he’s neglecting his own kids.
THE BOTTOM LINE: There is a little strong profanity and one scuffle between the kids.
Project X. A trio of high school nerds try to raise their coolness quotient by throwing a party in this very R-rated teen comedy that is not for under-17s. The bash gets out of hand in a way that nearly wrecks the neighborhood and attracts the SWAT team.
THE BOTTOM LINE: “Project X” includes nudity, steaming profanity, graphic sexual slang, drug use and drinking, and less graphic but still R-ish sexual situations. Add to that major property damage.
Wanderlust. Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd are well cast in this cleverly off-center social comedy. It’s not for under-17s and is a hard R. George and Linda are a loving but impractical New York couple whose financial situation craters. They hit the road and land at a bed-and-breakfast run by a hippie commune. They’re quickly pulled into the commune’s truth-telling encounter groups, improvisational hootenannies, vegan meals, pot smoking, hallucinogenic tea and free love.
The bottom line: The R reflects nudity, strong profanity, sexual slang, less graphic sexual situations, drug use and drinking.
Horwitz is a freelance writer.