Family Filmgoer: 'Megamind,' 'Unstoppable,' 'Morning Glory'
10 and older
MEGAMIND (PG): This 3-D animated comedy spoofs superhero movies with sharp repartee and clever references to older films in ways that will tickle teenage and grown-up film buffs. Yet there's enough uncomplicated silliness in it, both physical and verbal, to divert kids 10 and older. Younger than that, and "Megamind" may prove soporific. Megamind tries to terrorize Metro City. His archenemy is the superhero Metro Man. Megamind accidentally destroys Metro Man, and with no one to fight any more, he's at a loss. In fact, Megamind is not a very good bad guy because he wants to be loved.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Megamind refers to "getting my butt kicked." Some action sequences are a little intense. We see what appears to be the skeleton of the vaporized Metro Man. Roxanne's dopey cameraman, morphed into a superhuman "hero" by Megamind, becomes a bully.
UNSTOPPABLE: Teens who like action movies will get some kicks out of this runaway-train saga, but those who like their action flicks realistic and intense may be a tad disappointed. "Unstoppable," while blessed with crackerjack performances, tends to earn its PG-13 rating by pulling its punches when it comes to disaster-movie traditions. A veteran locomotive engineer, Frank, and his rookie second-in-command, Will, pursue a freight train that rolled away from its incompetent engineer and is speeding down a Pennsylvania track. Of course it's pulling tankers full of toxic material and headed straight for a city.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The movie features much destruction of property. Injuries shown, except for one bloodied foot, are nongraphic. A train full of school kids appears briefly at risk. The dialogue includes midrange profanity and mild sexual innuendo about Frank's college-age daughters working at Hooters.
MORNING GLORY: Rachel McAdams creates a witty portrait of a young TV news producer, and her performance will be what draws in high-school-age audiences. The script may be a little crude for middle-schoolers. Becky Fuller, an ambitious morning show producer, persuades the brass to let her use the network's legendary reporter and former evening news anchor Mike Pomeroy as co-host. He sulks on-air, infuriating Colleen Peck, the show's longtime co-host.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The movie includes a couple of semi-steamy but non-explicit sexual situations - Becky and her new love tearing each other's clothes off and kissing. The script includes much sexual innuendo, mostly mild but sometimes naughty, as well as considerable midrange profanity.
FAIR GAME: High-schoolers with an interest in spy sagas may find "Fair Game" the equivalent of a great read, even if they know little of the scandal on which it's closely based. Valerie Plame was a covert CIA operative. Her husband, Joe Wilson, was sent to Niger to check on intelligence that Iraq had bought uranium there. When the Bush administration cited Iraqi purchase of uranium in Africa as one reason for invading Iraq, Wilson went on the record arguing the contrary. The Bush administration tried to discredit him, also exposing Plame as a CIA operative and destroying her career.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The movie uses considerable low-grade profanity and some that is stronger. Characters drink and smoke, and there's one mildly implied marital sexual situation. The film shows footage of the Iraq War and creates a sense that Plame's contacts in Iraq are in grave danger.
127 HOURS: The grislier aspects of this survival story earn the R rating, though they occur only in the last quarter of the film. High-schoolers 16 and older with strong stomachs and a love of experimental cinema may well find "127 Hours" riveting. The film is based on the experiences of real-life hiker and climber Aron Ralston, who, in 2003, went hiking in Utah. A small, loose boulder pinned his arm and trapped him in a narrow crevasse. It becomes clear that he'll never free his arm, and what he must do to survive. His options are grizzly and the film does not skimp on that.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The amputation sequence is agony to watch, intensified by electronic music, sounding like nerve endings. There are also sequences about drinking his own urine. Some of Ralston's flashbacks are to nongraphic but strongly implied college drink-and-sex-a-thons. The dialogue includes profanity.
FOR COLORED GIRLS: Tyler Perry adapts for the screen Ntozake Shange's choreopoem about the interconnected lives, triumphs and tragedies of a group of urban African American women. Alas, the film is not for moviegoers younger than 16 or 17. Some of the stories are harsh, involving a back-alley abortion, a rape and a drunken, abusive husband dropping two young children to their deaths. Kimberly Elise is heartbreaking as the shattered mother. Phylicia Rashad, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg and Janet Jackson all turn in fine performances.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The death of the children is not shown graphically but is horrific. The film depicts a vicious date rape. Consensual sexual situations with partial undress are more implied and not explicit. The abortion scene stops short but has explicit implications. The dialogue includes strong profanity, and some characters drink.
firstname.lastname@example.org Horwitz is a freelance writer.