Rio 2 (G). The animated adventures of a South American blue macaw, aptly named Blu, and his mate, Jewel, continue in this richly colored and pleasurable sequel. It’s still fun, but perhaps not quite as sparkling in its humor and inventiveness as the original. Once again, the macaws face both avian and human villains, but nothing too intense for most kids age 6 and older. With their three fledglings, Blu and Jewel lead a quiet life in Rio, but Jewel worries that they’ve become too domesticated. So it’s off to the Amazon jungle to put their offspring in touch with nature, much to the citified Blu’s dismay. In the jungle, Blu and Jewel learn they’re not the only blue macaws left. They meet a whole flock, thought to have been wiped out. Linda and Tulio, their human protectors, learn this, too, but are detained by villains who poach rare birds and cut down trees.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Men operating bulldozers start mowing down trees in the rain forest, which some small children might find disturbing.
Heaven Is for Real (PG). This film is better for kids 10 and older because it deals in questions of faith and nonbelief, and because it shows a child ill and in danger of dying. Todd Burpo, a cheerful contractor and church pastor struggling through the bad economy in the heartland, nearly loses his 4-year-old son, Colton, to a burst appendix. (The movie is based on Burpo’s memoir.) Though Colton does not die on the operating table, he later tells his parents that he visited heaven, met Jesus and chatted with a great-grandfather. Todd, nicely played by Greg Kinnear, is a devout Christian, but has trouble believing that Colton’s account is more than a dream.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Scenes of Colton on the operating table, and of his desperate parents praying nearby, are very emotional.
The Other Woman. “The Other Woman” is too sex-focused for middle-schoolers, even though it is not explicit and the language is generally mild. For high-schoolers on up, it is a riotously clever, if cynical, farce about women’s revenge against a serial philanderer. Cameron Diaz plays Carly, a hotshot lawyer who starts a passionate relationship with the handsome Mark, assuming he’s also single. When she appears at his door, she meets his unsuspecting wife, Kate. Carly immediately stops seeing Mark, but Kate has no idea how to proceed, so she seeks Carly’s advice. The hardbitten lawyer and Kate become unlikely friends. They learn more about Mark’s secret life and decide he needs to be punished. Teaming with his latest 20-something girlfriend, they exact physical (hair remover in his shampoo, estrogen in his health shake, laxatives in his drink) and financial revenge.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The many bedroom scenes are never graphic, yet quite steamy, with the women in skimpy clothing. There is much discussion of sex, though it is non-explicit. Characters drink and occasionally vomit. The script features infrequent mild to midrange profanity.
Brick Mansions. This mayhem-rich urban saga may be a little too edgy for middle-schoolers. The stylized martial arts fights, building-to-building jumps and outrageous plot will appeal to high-schoolers. “Brick Mansions” unfolds in a huge wrecked housing project in a near-future Detroit. Gangs and drug lords rule there, and the city has built a wall around it. The late Paul Walker stars as Damien, an undercover cop determined to kill the biggest drug dealer there, Tremaine, played with swagger by RZA. Into this brew drops an acrobatic urban activist, Lino, who wants to push the drug trade out. When Tremaine abducts Lino’s girlfriend, Lino and Damien become unlikely allies.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The dialogue is pretty mild for this type of film — lots of S-words and B-words — but there is a lot of strong, if not explicit, sexual innuendo involving Tremaine’s scantily-clad female enforcer. The mayhem, more stylized than bloody, features martial arts-style fights, gunplay and car chases.
Walking With the Enemy. The depictions of World War II violence and of Hungarian Jews being shot, beaten, or rounded up and deported to death camps make “Walking With the Enemy” too intense or inappropriate for many middle-schoolers, especially if they know little about the Holocaust. Based on the true story of a Jewish resistance fighter in Budapest near the end of the war, the film goes to great, if overly expository, lengths to outline Hungary’s situation, shifting between ordinary people and high officials: We learn that Hungary’s leader, Regent Horthy, played by Ben Kingsley, sided his country with Germany, thinking it would be safer. Realizing his error, Horthy tries but fails to stop the German roundups of Hungarian Jews. The film’s other narrative follows young Elek Cohen, who starts hiding and saving Jews in Budapest, working with the Swiss embassy to create Swiss passports for them, and posing as a German officer in a stolen uniform to interrupt shootings and deportations. The love story between Elek and a young Jewish woman provides little respite from the intensity.
THE BOTTOM LINE: While muted in terms of graphic detail, the scenes depicting Nazi death camps are very, very grim. Scenes of Jews in Budapest lined up and shot or beaten are also upsetting, though not excessively bloody. There is also an attempted rape by SS men of a young Jewish woman.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s good to stop and consider one’s moral options, even in an action movie, but this sequel does too much of that, unfolding in fits and starts. Teen fans of Marvel Comics films will savor it anyway because of its winning characters and sharp repartee. They’ll forgive the slow bits and the hardware-heavy special effects. Captain America, a.k.a. Steve Rogers, played as a classic all-American hero by Chris Evans, has been thawed out and awakened from his long sleep after World War II. Now it’s the near future of our 21st century. Steve has a crisis of conscience over his boss, Nick Fury, the head of the secret agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and the violent methods he uses. Suddenly, Steve doesn’t know whom to trust as Fury is sidelined and a government bigwig may not prove reliable. So Steve teams with Natasha, a.k.a. the Black Widow, and Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon, to find the truth and, incidentally, save humankind.
The bottom line: High-speed chases punctuated by deafening gun battles and other explosions earn the PG-13 rating, though fatalities are portrayed bloodlessly unless they involve important characters. The script includes occasional use of the S-word and gently implied sexual innuendo.
A Haunted House 2. This painfully unfunny horror spoof starring (and co-written by) Marlon Wayans is mostly just gross and obscene — frat-house humor for those 17 and older. Wayans plays Malcolm, who is living with Megan and her two children in a suburban McMansion. But Malcolm feels weirdly attracted to a toy doll. This leads to occult occurrences that freak him out. His manic efforts to exorcise whatever is haunting the house, the kids and, eventually, him, just make things worse.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The language is sexually graphic, crude, misogynistic and profane. Explicit sexual situations occur between humans and between Wayans’s character and a doll. There is also partial nudity, farcically excessive drug use and drinking.
Horwitz is a freelance writer.