Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (PG). This sequel will provide juicy laughs for kids 6 and older, their parents and older siblings. Set after the end of the first film, this new adventure finds Flint, TV meteorologist Sam, Flint’s macho dad Tim, his mischievous monkey, Steve, and all his other pals still pondering the disastrous spaghetti tornado that befell their town of Swallow Falls. Now, while the cleanup continues, Flint hears from Chester V, a scientist whom Flint idolizes, that some of the food on the island has come alive. Flint is too naive to see that Chester V has his eyes on Flint’s invention and big profits. Flint and friends go to the island to help tame the “foodimals” and find out that things aren’t what they seem.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Naturally, there is a dash of toilet humor in such a film, but it involves a young strawberry having a “jam” accident. Even when the huge “taco-dile” looks like it’s attacking, the scenes are not very scary.
Wadjda (PG). Pioneering Saudi filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour has made the first feature-length movie shot wholly in Saudi Arabia. Her film tells the tale of a little girl who wants a bicycle. It could charm American kids 12 and older. Younger kids may have difficulty with the cultural contrasts. The film is a clear critique of the way religious and cultural traditions limit women’s lives in that country. Ten-year-old Wadjda has spunk, not a beloved quality in girls where she lives. Her mother worries about her mischievous daughter. And Wadjda’s mom has other concerns: She cannot have more children, so her husband may take another wife. For Wadjda, the bicycle means adventure and freedom. But it is not considered decorous for girls to ride bikes where Wadjda lives. Her best friend is a boy named Abdullah who loans her his bike. She enters a Koran recitation competition at school, hoping to win money so she can buy a bike.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Mature content about Wadjda’s father taking another wife and the belief that riding bicycles causes girls to lose their virginity is discussed in very proper language.
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. Dante Graham, a hip-hop mogul, goes to see his old pal Jason Blake, a former basketball coach who has been drinking excessively 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 at a former juvenile detention facility. The chief rivals on the team are Rooster and Do Knock, and their animosity and hotdogging cause problems.
THE BOTTOM LINE: What little profanity the script contains is mild. The coach drinks, and there are a couple of scuffles.
Rush. The race sequences shake your teeth and blur your vision — in a good way — in Ron Howard’s account of a rivalry between two Formula One drivers from the 1970s. The sport, the nostalgia and the contrasting character studies may grip those 16 and older, though the story isn’t very engaging. James Hunt is a British playboy who loves to party hard, take risks and win prizes. When he meets driver Niki Lauda, it’s an instant hate-hate relationship. Lauda is deadly serious, humorless and disciplined. At the German Grand Prix, Lauda crashes and is very badly burned. As the film tells it, Lauda’s injuries and painful recovery make him want to beat Hunt even more.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The racing sequences show some terrible crashes, and Lauda sustains horrible burns to his face. His hospital treatment involves scenes that are painfully squirm-inducing. Characters occasionally use drugs and use strong profanity. Characters appear topless or nude from the back and engage in steamy, though not highly explicit, sexual situations.
Blue Caprice. This is not an easy movie to watch, and surely is not for viewers younger than 17. The story is based on the lives of John Allen Muhammad, who was executed in 2009, and the teenager he trained to kill, Lee Boyd Malvo, now spending the rest of his life in prison. For three weeks in October 2002, using an old blue Chevrolet Caprice as cover for their long-distance shootings, they killed 10 people in the Washington area, terrorizing the community. Embittered over his estranged wife taking their children, John obsesses over revenge. Lee, abandoned by his mother, finds a surrogate dad. While it eventually and chillingly gets to the shootings, the film focuses on the evolving relationship.
The bottom line: The film includes multiple lethal shootings, but it is not exceptionally graphic for an R rating. There is a lot of blood, and the scenes showing shooting victims are highly disturbing. The film contains strong profanity and non-explicit sexual innuendo. Characters use drugs.
Horwitz is a freelance writer.
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