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 plant life. 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 Mr. O’Hare means to keep it that way. Ted rides his motorbike out of town to find the Once-ler, who can tell him what happened to the trees. The Once-ler recounts how 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.
John Carter. This tale of a 19th-century American on Mars should transport teens who love science-fiction and fantastical fables. John Carter is a Confederate veteran of the Civil War. He escapes capture by Army officers, who want him to help fight the Apache. In a cave, he finds an amulet that transports him to Mars, or Barsoom, as its inhabitants call it. Carter is captured by the leader of the tall, green Tharks and learns that a civil war is raging there. He eventually befriends the Tharks, and tries to arrange an alliance with the humanoid Heliumites, led by Tardos Mors and his beautiful daughter, Dejah Thoris. Carter must save her and Mars/Barsoom.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The film includes battle scenes and other mayhem. The fighting hints at severed limbs. Flashbacks to Carter’s 19th-century life on Earth imply that his wife burned to death after an attack on their cabin. Hard-fisted fights take place when he’s forcibly conscripted by the U.S. Army. There is mild sexual innuendo.
Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds. Teens who like more intimate personal dramas might be pulled into Tyler Perry’s world. He plays Wesley Deeds, the soft-spoken CEO of a software company. He lives with his fiancee, who finds Wesley sweet but predictable. His brother, Walter, is a loose cannon who works at the family business. Their mother favors Wesley and wishes Walter would shut up. Lindsey is a single mom in dire financial straits who works on Deeds’s office building’s cleaning crew. She was evicted and now lives in her car. This is no life for her 6-year-old daughter, Ariel. Wesley becomes more involved than he expected.
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 references to promiscuity. In one upsetting scene, family services personnel take Lindsey’s daughter away.
Silent House. High-schoolers 16 and older might be gripped by the gimmick behind “Silent House,” which is that the entire film was made in one shot with no edits. As the film opens, Sarah’s relaxing on the waterside rocks next to a rambling old summer house that her father and uncle are cleaning in order to sell. Once inside, with only flashlights and lanterns, mysterious noises start to freak Sarah out. She tries to hide from the stranger in the house who is committing acts of violence.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The film shows a lot of blood, but the actual on-screen violence involves more sound than graphic visuals. Characters use occasional profanity and drink beer. SPOILER ALERT: Although it is never graphic or highly specific, the film implies strongly and in eery flashbacks sexual abuse involving a pre-adolescent girl and men.
Being Flynn. College students — in particular those who love literature and tales of tortured writers — may find “Being Flynn” engrossing and revelatory, despite the film’s dark and depressive tone. It is far too profane and graphic for under-17s. The movie recounts how Nick became reacquainted with his father, Jonathan, while working at a homeless shelter. Jonathan, encountered after 18 years of no contact, is a grandiose, narcissistic blowhard who thinks everything he scribbles is a literary masterpiece. In fact, he is mentally ill and an alcoholic. Young Nick fears he’ll turn into his father.
The bottom line: Scenes at the homeless shelter, depicting drunken, strung-out, sick, lice-infested and sometimes combative men are disturbing and raw. There are a couple of graphic sexual situations and some nonsexual nudity. Characters use steaming profanity. An eventual suicide is strongly implied but not shown. We see thugs beating up homeless men, but not graphically.
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.