Filmgoer reviews ‘Despicable Me 2,’ ‘The Lone Ranger,’ and ‘The Way, Way Back’

July 5, 2013
6 and older

Despicable Me 2. Kids 6 and older will get a charge and a good giggle out of this 3-D sequel. It’s missing the dark humor of the first film, and it’s better for it, kids-wise. Gru has adopted orphan girls Margo, Edith and Agnes and has given up evil. In fact, his mad scientist, Dr. Nefario, bored with inventing fart guns to amuse the girls and Gru’s minions, decides to leave. Enter an amusingly clumsy secret agent named Lucy from the Anti-Villain League. She abducts Gru and takes him to their headquarters. Gru is told to infiltrate a mall as the owner of a cupcake store so that he can trace the source of a serum that turns benign creatures into monsters.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A bunny and some of Gru’s yellow minions are turned into big, jagged-toothed purple monsters. Some kids, especially under-6s, may find this unsettling, especially in 3-D. A huge shark bares its teeth to Lucy and Gru while they’re in a mini-submarine. Gru reminisces about how unpopular he was as a kid. We see one minion’s bare behind.

PG-13

The Lone Ranger. Today’s teens may know little of the Lone Ranger and Tonto. And this elaborate, revisionist, Tonto-focused how-they-met saga may win teens over. It’s a good half-hour too long, and the violence may be too intense for some middle-schoolers, but it can be surprisingly enjoyable. A boy wanders into a Wild West Exhibition in 1933 San Francisco. An ancient-looking Native American comes to life and tells the startled child how he met a naive young lawyer named John Reid who helped him escape prison chains on a train heading west. Reid and the Native American — Tonto — tussle with another prisoner, the evil Butch Cavendish. The two heroic men become the Lone Ranger and his partner, Tonto. They take on Cavendish and the smarmy railroad man who has a yen for the Lone Ranger’s widowed sister-in-law.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Many Indians, infantrymen, bad guys and horses die amid hails of bullets or from arrows or knives. The PG-13 rating holds because little blood is shown. However, there is a scene in which Cavendish cuts out and eats a heart. While not graphic on camera, it is very strongly implied. Chase scenes are thrilling but not scary. Non-explicit scenes occur in a brothel. A woman is subtly threatened with rape, and her young son is held at gunpoint.

The Way, Way Back. High-schoolers will especially identify with this acerbic yet heartwarming saga of teen unhappiness caused by adults behaving badly. The movie may be a little risque for some middle-schoolers. Duncan, a depressed 14-year-old, grudgingly goes with his divorced mom, Pam, to spend the summer at her boyfriend Trent’s lake house. Poor Duncan cannot abide Trent or his mean-girl daughter. Self-important and phony, Trent tries to exert control over Duncan, and Pam is afraid to intervene. It isn’t until Duncan goes to the Water Wizz Water Park and meets the manager, Owen, that life starts to look up.

The bottom line: Mild-to-midrange profanity and semi-crude sexual slang pepper the dialogue. A strongly profane misogynistic word is euphemistic, but never actually spoken. Themes about infidelity and betrayal weave throughout. Guys ask girls in bikinis to pause for safety before heading down the big slide, but it’s just so they can stare at the girls’ derrieres.

R

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain. A concert film of comedian and actor Kevin Hart’s Madison Square Garden appearance during his 2012 tour, this movie aims its hilarity at young adults. Not for under-17s, it more than earns an R rating for graphic language and profanity. The movie opens with Hart throwing a party for himself where people come up to him and toss heavy criticism his way instead of offering congratulations, to which he responds by saying he’ll just go to Madison Square Garden and explain it all. Then we’re into his concert.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Hart’s style of comedy includes steaming profanity and highly explicit sexual language, as well as repeated use of the B-word when talking about relationships in ways that could be viewed as misogynistic.

I’m So Excited! Not even for true cinema buffs under 17 (perhaps not even under 20), this naughty sexual farce from writer/director Pedro Almodovar is a very adult confection. A flight headed from Spain to Mexico experiences potentially disastrous mechanical trouble. The prospect of catastrophe prompts passengers and crew to lose their inhibitions and engage in something of a sexual and emotional orgy. With the passengers and flight attendants in coach knocked out with muscle relaxants, the three male flight attendants in business class knock back tequila and gossip about their love lives. The wakeful passengers they serve experience life-changing lust and other revelations.

The bottom line: While there is no nudity, the film includes several highly explicit sexual situations. The dialogue (in Spanish with subtitles) contains graphic sexual language and highly explicit discussions about sexuality. Characters drink alcohol, pop pills and use illicit drugs. Themes about attempted suicide and mental illness weave through.

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

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