THE BOTTOM LINE: To soothe little kids’ unease at more intense moments, call their attention to how the make-up on the Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man looks really fake by today’s standards. And it’s easy to spot where wigs join faces and such, thus reminding them that it’s all make-believe.
Battle of the Year. For what it is — a simplistic “let’s-be-a-team” kind of movie — “Battle of the Year” isn’t bad, and it’s fine for most teens. The film has heavy-duty competitive dance, performed by real “b-boys.” Dante Graham, a hip-hop mogul, goes to see his old pal Jason Blake, a former basketball coach who has been drinking ever since his wife and son died in a car crash. Dante wants Jason to oversee the training of a team that Dante will sponsor in a world championship hip-hop dance competition. Jason decides to rebuild Dante’s team and trains the guys 12 hours a day at a former juvenile detention facility. The chief rivals on the team are Rooster and Do Knock, and their animosity and hotdogging make problems. Of course, the rivalries morph into friendships and the coach gets his life back.
THE BOTTOM LINE: What little profanity the script contains is mild. The coach drinks, and there are a couple of scuffles.
Insidious: Chapter 2. This movie has scarier violence than the first, so it will be too intense for a lot of middle-schoolers. “Chapter 2” sends its characters back in time between the worlds of the living and the dead. When the first movie ended, Josh Lambert had just rescued his son Dalton from a demon that had snatched the boy’s spirit into the netherworld. Josh’s wife, Renai, suspects that Josh became possessed while he traveled in the other dimension, and murdered the medium Elise who helped him get there. The Lamberts are going to stay with Josh’s mother, Lorraine. Josh acts distracted and vaguely menacing, and Dalton again hears voices and has bad dreams. So Lorraine calls in the late Elise’s assistants.
The bottom line: The demonically possessed Josh goes after his wife and kids with knives and bats. The demonic spirit, invisible at first but later depicted as a crazy old woman, draws blood and causes a baby to fall from its crib. We see bloody fingerprints on the neck of a strangled victim and a room full of corpses. A subplot involves a serial killer and an abusive mother.
Prisoners. Really not for audiences younger than college-age, “Prisoners” recounts what happens after two little girls disappear. Keller Dover and his wife, Grace, and their kids are at the home of their neighbors and best friends, Franklin and Nancy Birch. The Birches’ little girl, Joy, and the Dovers’ Anna go out to play and disappear. The Dovers’ son, Ralph, remembers that an unfamiliar RV parked on the street earlier is now gone. Police detective Loki, a loner with a reputation for solving cases, finds the driver of the RV, a cognitively disabled young man named Alex. He takes him in for questioning, but finds no compelling evidence to hold him. Keller is furious that Alex was released. A hunter and survivalist, he decides to act on his own.
THE BOTTOM LINE: There are scenes of Keller torturing Alex, which are very tough to watch, and the state of Alex’s face days later makes you gasp. The film includes two graphic gun deaths. The script contains strong profanity. Keller drinks while his wife is dazed by tranquilizers. The emotional intensity can be draining. Parents of young children may find the film too much to handle.
Thanks for Sharing. This film deals with the subject of sex addiction but not in a very bleak or highly explicit way. Even so, it is not for viewers younger than 17. Adam is a recovering sex addict now five years “sober,” thanks to an AA-linked support group and his sponsor, Mike; Mike’s son, Danny, is a recovering drug addict desperate to win his stern dad’s trust; Neil is an ER doctor who can’t control his sexual urges; and then there’s Dede, the only woman in the group. Adam finally feels ready to date, but when a woman he is interested in learns that he’s a recovering sex addict, she has qualms.
The bottom line: The movie includes scenes of steamy and explicit sexuality that include little nudity but have elements of sadomasochism, unwanted sexual advances and masturbating to pornography. Characters drink and use some strong profanity.
Horwitz is a freelance writer.
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