Family Filmgoer reviews ‘Katy Perry: Part of Me,’ ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,’ ‘Savages’ and more
By Jane Horwitz,
11 and older
Katy Perry: Part of Me (PG). Tween and teen girls are the most likely audience for this neon-colored, 3-D “documentary.” The film includes apparently candid moments in the life of Katy Perry during her 2011 world tour. She had invited the filmmakers along on the tour, but couldn’t have known that her unlikely long-distance marriage to British comic Russell Brand would disintegrate. We get glimpses of Brand, and see Perry weeping. She seems nice, and we see home movies of young Katy singing gospel and learn about her childhood with Pentecostal evangelist parents.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Perry and her entourage are never shown behaving badly or imbibing. There is brief toilet humor.
The Amazing Spider-Man. Most teens will get thrills, though some middle-schoolers may find the mayhem a little daunting. Peter is a science-loving high school student who has lived with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May since his parents dropped him there and disappeared. A genetically modified spider bites Peter, and he gradually develops super-strength. When his beloved uncle is killed by a robber, Peter starts going after bad guys (and the Lizard) incognito and invents the Spider-Man persona.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The rubbery Lizard isn’t particularly horrible, even in 3-D. The climactic high-flying battles are more harrowing. There are head-banging fights and harsh bullying. Uncle Ben’s death is upsetting. The script features rare strong language and mild sexual innuendo. A few scenes with spiders and lizards will not thrill phobics.
Beasts of the Southern Wild. This indie film spins a modern fairy tale. Perhaps too upsetting a saga for middle-schoolers, it could transport high-school-age cinema buffs. Hushpuppy lives with her ailing father, Wink, in a remote and fictional part of the bayou known as the Bathtub. Wink, Hushpuppy and their cohorts ride out a storm that ruins the Bathtub. They’re all evacuated by force to a shelter where Wink learns his health is failing fast. They escape and go back home.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Hushpuppy’s dad and his friends drink like fish and live in squalor, but independence. She and her dad argue, and he screams at and threatens her when he’s drunk. The storm and the flooding are quite harrowing to watch, as are imaginary buffalo-like beasts, all threatening Hushpuppy.
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection. The focus on grown-up problems and the general lameness of the writing in Tyler Perry’s latest Madea comedy will send most teens to sleep or the lobby. Brian, a federal prosecutor, has orders to go after a Wall Street firm that had operated a huge Ponzi scheme. The firm’s clueless CFO, George, faced with prison, tries to cooperate. Since the mob is involved, Brian puts George and his family into witness protection — in the home of Brian’s aunt Madea and her dirty-minded brother, Uncle Joe.
The bottom line: Perry’s script includes crude toilet humor, bawdy sexual innuendo and comic drug references.
Savages. Two Southern California pot growers stand up to a Mexican drug cartel in this bloody tale directed by Oliver Stone, which could send adventurous college-age moviegoers into paroxysms of cinematic delight over the action and irony-rich dialogue. With bloody gun battles, torture, strong profanity and explicit sex scenes, this is not for under-17s. Chon and Ben grow and sell marijuana, and share the affections of O. When a drug cartel, led by the ferocious Elena, approaches them to go into business, Chon and Ben try to say no. But they insult Elena and her goons, and the potential deal turns to mayhem. The cartel kidnaps O. The violence escalates.
THE BOTTOM LINE: You name it, it’s in here: graphically bloody point-blank gun violence; explicit sex scenes with near-nudity; drug use; strong profanity; dubious morality on all sides of the equation.
Ted. Though scads of high-schoolers may try to see “Ted,” seething profanity and graphic sexual content make it wholly inappropriate for most under-17s. The film is profane, crude and tasteless, but consistently hilarious. John is a friendless 8-year-old boy in the Boston ’burbs who wishes his new teddy bear could be his best friend for life. It works. John names him Ted and they grow inseparable. John now has a crummy job and lives with his loving girlfriend, Lori, who tolerates the totally trash-mouthed Ted. John and Ted smoke weed, drink beer and curse like sailors. John finally agrees that Ted should move out and get a job.
The bottom line: Steaming profanity, drug use, crude sexual language and graphic sexual behavior earn the R rating with honors, with deliberately tasteless ethnic and racial jokes, homophobic humor, fat insults, toplessness and backview nudity thrown in.
Magic Mike. Even less appropriate for under-17s than “Ted,” “Magic Mike” oozes sexual explicitness, near-nudity, intense profanity, drug use and boozing. Mike is a 30-something guy who works construction by day, strips by night and builds furniture in his spare time. Mike befriends Adam, whom he shoves onstage. Adam can’t handle all of the cash and female attention. His somber, hardworking sister is attracted to Mike and Mike to her.
THE BOTTOM LINE: In addition to the strip-club scenes and all of the sexualized dancing, there are very strongly implied sexual situations with near-nudity, some with multiple partners at a time, non-lethal violence, drinking and drug use. The dialogue bristles with strong profanity.
Horwitz is a freelance writer.