Some intense scenes in story of empowerment, mentorship.
“Cars 3” is part of Pixar’s popular movie franchise about a world of talking, humanlike vehicles. The star-studded voice cast, led by Owen Wilson, returns for a three-quel that’s much more diverse and uplifting (not to mention less violent) than the last installment. That said, although language, romance and drinking/smoking are all minimal, be ready for a couple of intense crash/demolition-derby scenes in which main characters are damaged, in danger or afraid of aggressive vehicles (one even deploys spinning saws). But the characters learn key life lessons, and there are positive messages about the importance of finding wise, supportive mentors (like the dearly departed Doc Hudson); the idea that no matter how old you are, you always have more to learn; and the fact that regardless of your gender or what you look like, you should be allowed to compete and reach for your dreams. Overall, this is a great pick for car fans of all ages. (100 minutes)
Salma Hayek is terrific in relevant, complex, issues-based drama.
“Beatriz at Dinner” is a drama about a kind, empathetic Mexican immigrant to America (Salma Hayek) who unexpectedly ends up having a tense, uncomfortable evening at a client’s small dinner party, where she meets an unapologetically boorish billionaire (John Lithgow). The dinner party conversation includes occasional strong language (“f---,” “s---,” “motherf---er,” “a--hole,” etc.) and complex social commentary that may well go over the head of younger viewers. (Possible spoiler alert!) There’s one scene of unexpected violence, in which a character is stabbed, and another scene in which an angry party attendee throws a phone on the floor when confronted with an upsetting photo. Things never get particularly racy, but there are quick kisses. Adults drink frequently and sometimes to excess; characters also smoke cigars. Aside from Hayek/Beatriz, the cast/characters aren’t diverse; they’re virtually all rich and white. (83 minutes)
Clever, creative, action-packed adventure/toy ad.
Like 2014’s “The Lego Movie,” “The Lego Batman Movie” is clever, creative and funny, with nonstop action. It’s a little darker/edgier than its predecessor — there are tons of bad guys, battles, explosions, bombs, weapons, destruction and general mayhem. But because it’s all made out of Lego bricks, there’s zero gore, and very little is permanently damaged (lots of things are put back together in a literal snap). Still, the main characters are constantly in peril, which could upset some younger or more sensitive kids, and one key character momentarily seems headed for a more serious end. Words like “butt,” “loser” and “sucks” are used, and there’s a little flirting, plus humor related to Dick/Robin’s preference to go without pants when wearing his costume — but nothing gets too risque. Batman is forced to give himself a pretty hard look over the course of the movie, eventually realizing that he can’t do everything by himself and that working with a team/having a family is more fun and fulfilling than going it alone (no matter how awesome your pecs are). As with all Lego movies, shows and games, it also serves as a feature-length toy ad — but you may not care, you’ll be laughing so hard. (104 minutes)
Via Amazon video and iTunes; also available on DVD.
Documentary about brave teen taking on oppressive government.
“Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower” is not, as the title might suggest, an action movie about a kid facing a comic book foe, but rather a documentary about a bright teen who takes it upon himself to help lead a youth movement against Communist China’s takeover of his city, the former British colony of Hong Kong. The fight includes a hunger strike, street protests, sit-ins and confrontations with police, who use force and tear gas to control huge crowds. Expect to see many intelligent, dedicated young people working to preserve free speech and free thought — and also to hear “f---,” “s---” and “hell.” There’s a clear message about the importance of courage. (79 minutes)
Available via Netflix.
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