Family Filmgoer reviews ‘Anchorman 2,’ ‘Walking With Dinosaurs’ and more

December 20, 2013
8 and older

Walking With Dinosaurs (PG). Full of humor, adventure and information, this animated 3-D adventure will entertain kids 8 and older very well. Some of the dangers in the story make “Walking with Dinosaurs” a bit too much for viewers younger than 8, though seeing it in 2-D could tame it a bit. Our dinosaur hero and his herd face fires, predators, violent rivalries and the loss of parents. These are not too graphically rendered, but still are not for kids younger than 8. The young dinosaur hero is Patchi, a perky pachyrhinosaurus who is the runt of his litter. His big brother, Scowler, teases and bullies him, but he’s befriended by a colorful bird named Alex, our narrator. Alex follows the spunky little dinosaur as the herd goes on its annual migration, loses members in a vicious forest fire and nearly drowns while treading on ice that gives way. Patchi and Scowler’s parents die, but not on screen.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The humor includes dinosaur poop, vomit and flatulence jokes. The forest fire, predatory attacks and a scene in which some of the herd fall through a frozen lake are scary. Most of this is more implied than graphic, but in 3-D it’s intense. The male dinosaurs have non-lethal head-butting contests.

PG-13

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. This comedy is too raunchy for middle-schoolers without parental okay. Ron Burgundy and his now-wife, Veronica Corningstone, are co-anchoring weekend news in New York when their boss fires Ron and makes Veronica a weeknight anchor. This wrecks their marriage and estranges the dumb, self-absorbed Ron from their son. Just when all seems lost, an executive from a budding cable news channel, “GNN,” invites Ron to get his old team together for a national gig delivering the 2 a.m. news. Competing with the new network’s prime time anchor for ratings, Ron and his guys resort to anything. Sure enough, they’re a hit.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The script is peppered with midrange profanity and one or two F-words, plus crass verbal sexual innuendo. Ron is often drunk and smokes crack on the air as a feature story. There are steamy but non-graphic sexual situations. (Phobics note: There are bats and a scorpion.) The battle scene finale involves guns, axes, crossbows and aerial strafing.

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas. This film is best aimed at adults already in tune with Perry’s broad, slightly lewd comedy stylings. As the film opens, the sharp-tongued battle-ax Madea gets fired for rudeness during a brief gig as a holiday sales clerk in a department store. Madea’s friend Eileen begs Madea to drive her to a small Southern town for Christmas, where Eileen’s daughter Lacey has bought a farm and works as a teacher. Lacey has been secretive, and Eileen aims to learn why. It becomes clear to Madea that Lacey and her “farm hand” Conner, who is white, are in love (married, in fact), but Lacey is afraid to tell her mom. Conner’s countrified parents are coming for Christmas, too, providing lots of awkwardly comic getting-to-know-you moments.

The bottom line: The dialogue includes a muffled F-word, other milder profanity, a great deal of adult oriented, but not-too-explicit sexual innuendo, toilet humor and verbal and visual references to the Ku Klux Klan. There are drug and moonshine references, too.

R

Inside Llewyn Davis. It’s hard to say whether high-school-age film buffs will take to this humorous but bleak foray into the folk music scene, circa 1961, in Greenwich Village. They may not have enough cultural context. The self-defeating Llewyn Davis is a folk singer trying to make it solo since the death of his partner. Llewyn is a handsome fellow and not without talent, but he’s a jerk. He has betrayed a folkie friend by sleeping with the man’s wife, who is now pregnant by Llewyn and positively hates him. The film is bookended by a scene in which a man beats up Llewyn in an alley and not, we learn, without reason.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Characters discuss raising the money for an abortion as part of an infidelity theme. One musician overdoses on heroin. There’s a conversation about a suicide. Many characters chain smoke and drink. The script includes strong profanity.

American Hustle. Despite its 1970s setting, this crime and corruption comedy could be highly entertaining to film fans 17 and older. It is too lewd for viewers younger than 17. Christian Bale, with a beer gut and bad comb-over, plays Irving Rosenfeld, a small-time con man. Unhappily married to the unstable Rosalyn, Irving falls in love — and in cahoots — with a beauty named Sydney Prosser, who can fake a British accent. They start conning people out of thousands of dollars in fees by promising them millions in overseas loans. An FBI agent of limited abilities, Richie DiMaso, gets wise to their scam. Promising judicial leniency, he forces them to help entrap the mayor of Camden, N.J., and a couple of U.S. senators.

The bottom line: The film includes brief scenes of violence — mob shootings, non-lethal but violent threats involving guns, fistfights and near-strangulation. The film includes several steamy, semi-explicit sexual situations. One character smokes pot. Characters use strong profanity, smoke cigarettes and drink.

Horwitz is a freelance writer.
Read her previous reviews at
On Parenting
.

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