Family Filmgoer reviews ‘Gravity,’ ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2’ and more

October 4, 2013
6 and older

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (PG). This sequel will provide juicy laughs for kids 6 and older, their parents and older siblings. Set after the end of the first film, this new adventure finds Flint, TV meteorologist Sam, Flint’s macho dad, Tim, mischievous monkey Steve and all his other pals still pondering the disastrous spaghetti tornado that befell their town of Swallow Falls. While the cleanup continues, Flint hears from Chester V, a scientist whom Flint idolizes, that some of the food on the island has come alive. Flint is too naive to see that Chester V has his eyes on Flint’s invention and big profits. Flint and friends go to the island to help tame the foodimals and find out that things aren’t what they seem.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Naturally, there is a dash of toilet humor in such a film, but it involves a young strawberry having a “jam” accident. Even when the huge “taco-dile” looks like it’s attacking, the scenes are not very scary.

PG-13

Gravity. All teens should find “Gravity” to be an amazing ride. The more sophisticated among them will key into the film’s existential alone-in-an-unfeeling-universe subtext. If possible, try to see it in 3-D and on an Imax screen, because the images are so you-are-there breathtaking. Ryan Stone is a medical engineer and new astronaut on her first mission. As the film opens, she’s working outside the shuttle, doing repairs with a seasoned astronaut, Matt Kowalski. With only seconds of warning from the space center in Houston, a wave of metal debris from a destroyed Russian satellite hurtles toward them, killing a colleague and cutting their tethers. Panicked, Ryan somersaults over and over, unable to orient herself. Maneuvering his jet pack, Matt gets hold of her. They realize the shuttle has been wrecked and those inside killed. They try to maneuver themselves toward a probably evacuated Russian space station to use its remaining rescue pod and head back to Earth.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The language in the script is surprisingly restrained, except for one outburst of the F-word. Mostly, the PG-13 rating reflects the intensity of the danger the astronauts face and the sense of being so alone and unmoored from anything safe.

Baggage Claim. This movie, which is okay for high-schoolers but a little too casual about sex for middle-schoolers, hinges on a wholly superficial idea of how love and marriage work. Montana Moore is a beautiful, educated flight attendant but is a failure to her mother, who believes a true woman must marry. Montana discovers that the man she expects to propose to her already is married. Then her younger sister gets engaged and the pressure grows. Montana has 30 days to bag a fiance to bring to her sister’s rehearsal dinner. Work pals track Montana’s recent ex-boyfriends so she can “accidentally” run into them on various flights. Meanwhile, the real love of Montana’s life lives across the hall.

The bottom line: There is a highly stylized, non-explicit bedroom scene that is mostly a montage of Montana and a boyfriend in partial undress. The script includes little profanity, though lots of moderate sexual innuendo and use of the B-word.

Enough Said. It’s an open question whether high-schoolers will be charmed by this lovely, funny little film. It is perhaps too adult for middle-schoolers in its emotional outlook. Eva works as a self-employed masseuse. At a party, she meets Marianne, a divorcee, and Albert, a divorced guy who, like Eva, has a daughter heading to college. Marianne becomes Eva’s new client. Albert calls Eva for a date. They hit it off, and a romance grows. Meanwhile, during her appointments with Eva, Marianne verbally trashes her ex-husband, who happens to be Albert.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Bedroom scenes between Eva and Albert are non-explicit. Characters occasionally use semi-crude sexual slang, mild to midrange profanity and a homophobic slur.

R

Don Jon. This sharply observed adults-only dramedy is nicely marinated in a “Real Housewives of New Jersey” vibe. Jon is a clueless Jersey bartender who loves his parents, weight lifting, drinking with his buddies, picking up women at bars and going to church. He also loves online porn to such a degree that he qualifies as an addict. He prefers it to actual lovemaking. Every Sunday he confesses his viewing and masturbation to an unseen priest, but never quits. Then Jon falls for Barbara, a gum-chewing vamp who wraps him around her little finger. When she catches him engaging in his porn habit, he doesn’t understand her objections. At his night-school class, he meets a good listener in Esther, an inexplicably sad woman years his senior.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The film’s frequent depictions of sexual situations seem very explicit, even for an R-rated film, though the only nudity is toplessness in the porn videos. Characters drink, smoke pot and use very strong sexual slang and profanity. Jon and his friends (and his dad) speak of women like pieces of meat.

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

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