The Washington Post

Family Filmgoer reviews ‘Smurfs 2,’ ‘The To Do List’ and ‘2 Guns’

5 and older

The Smurfs 2 (PG). Tots 5 and older (perhaps some a bit younger) will grin their way through this sequel. It is, as was the first film, a mix of animation and live action, this time also in 3-D. A crisis hits the Smurfs’ idyllic woodland village: Smurfette is snatched through a space-time portal by Vexy, who has been sent by the evil buck-toothed wizard, Gargamel. He just needs a dash of “Smurf essence” from Smurfette to control the Smurf universe. Once Papa Smurf realizes that Smurfette has been abducted, he deputizes Clumsy, Grouchy and Vanity to go with him to the rescue. Seeking human help, they burst through the continuum and into the Manhattan apartment of Patrick, their pal from the first film, his wife, their toddler son and Patrick’s visiting stepfather. Gargamel is holding Smurfette prisoner in Paris, where the wizard has been doing his magic act to sellout crowds at the Paris Opera House. So Smurfs and humans go there to save her.

THE BOTTOM LINE: In his act at the Paris Opera House, Gargamel turns audience members into toads and, on the street, zaps a taxi into the air. Even his talking cat, Azrael, doesn’t like him. Gargamel’s cranky magic could briefly discomfit the youngest kids, particularly in 3-D. In a droll bit at his son’s birthday party, Patrick spoofs all the food allergies parents worry about.


The Wolverine. Dark, moody and very violent for a PG-13, “The Wolverine” may be too extreme for some middle-schoolers. The prologue takes place in a prisoner-of-war camp near Nagasaki, Japan. Logan is chained up in solitary. With his healing powers, he protects a humane young guard from the atomic-bomb blast. Cut to the present. A depressed Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine, lives alone in the Yukon. He picks a bar fight with the hunter who killed his favorite grizzly. This reveals Logan to Yukio, a petite martial arts fighter from Japan. She tells Logan that the now elderly and wealthy former guard, Yashida, is dying and wants to say farewell. Logan goes with her to Tokyo and finds Yashida’s family threatened by gangsters.

THE BOTTOM LINE: “The Wolverine” shows or strongly implies many impalements. Partly off-camera, Logan makes an incision into his chest to remove an implant from his heart. The script features some fairly mild profanity.

R.I.P.D. A loud, blustery bore of a movie, “R.I.P.D.” may send teen audiences straight to sleep. The concept behind this fantasy — police officers killed in the line of duty working off their sins from beyond the grave — just feels clunky. Nick is a Boston cop whose partner, Hayes, murders him and makes it look like criminals did it. Nick is sucked into a vortex and lands at R.I.P.D. headquarters. Everyone there is a dead police officer. Nick was crooked in life, so he’s given a chance to lessen his final judgment by working after death. He heads back to the streets of Boston to capture “deados” — sin-laden souls disguised as humans and hiding from judgment.

The bottom line: Little or no blood flows in “R.I.P.D.,” but the film has much skull-cracking mayhem, point-blank gunfire and destructive car chases. The dialogue includes frequent use of the S-word and mild sexual innuendo. One character uses a slur.


2 Guns. Too graphically violent for most high-schoolers younger than 16 (though many of them will likely see it), this action-crime-comedy gets high marks for teaming Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, and for the sharp repartee and boys-will-be-boys macho antics. The movie thrives on twists, turns and a carelessness about death. When we meet Stig and Bobby, they appear to be a pair of low-grade, smart-mouth bank robbers. They blow the doors off a wall of safe deposit boxes and discover nearly $40 million more than they expected. In a flashback, we learn that their bank heist was aimed at cash belonging to a Mexican drug lord, Papi.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A scene in which Stig shoots the heads off live chickens wins the prize for unusual R-rated violence. The film features numerous point-blank shooting deaths, gun battles, skull-banging fights, explosions, fires and crazy car chases. Thugs string the two men up by their ankles and beat them. Papi threatens all kinds of harm to Bobby’s and Stig’s privates. There is profanity, a bit of toilet humor and female toplessness, but with no explicit sexual situation.

The To Do List.This is a good-natured but crude film and is emphatically for the 18-and-older crowd. Aubrey Plaza plays brainy high school senior Brandy Klark. A virginal valedictorian, she’s heading to college and is mortified at her lack of sexual experience. With help from friends Fiona and Wendy, she makes a list of sex acts to experience over the summer, then sets about checking off each item.

The bottom line: The film contains several explicitly mimed sexual situations, extremely graphic sexual slang and other clinical language, very strong profanity and gross-to-the-max toilet humor.

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



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