TURBO. A garden snail named Turbo (voice of Ryan Reynolds) dreams of racing in the Indy 500 in this refreshingly odd and enjoyable 3-D animated fable that should more than please kids 6 and older as well as teenagers and parents who like humor. Turbo lives in a Los Angeles back yard and watches car races on television. He longs for speed, even though it takes him 17 minutes to travel a foot. One day, Turbo is watching traffic from a bridge when he falls onto the highway and lands in the midst of a drag race. He emerges with the power to zoom at blinding speeds. When a crow snatches his brother Chet, Turbo vrooms to the rescue, and the chase ends on a taco truck driven by Tito (Michael Peña), who has a collection of snails he races for fun. When he sees Turbo’s hyper-speed, he raises money and takes Turbo to the Indianapolis 500.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Some of Turbo’s adventures will look a little harrowing to viewers younger than 6, especially in 3-D, when he gets sucked into a racer’s exhaust system and when he rescues Chet. In the Indy 500 scenes, Turbo is nearly wiped out by debris or run over by race cars. There’s also a multi-car crash that looks scary. A human character seems to drink beer. Turbo learns, after meeting a champion driver, that your idols can disappoint you.
GROWN UPS 2. No one will mistake “Grown Ups 2” for a good movie, but in a happy surprise, this showcase for a crew of 40-something comic actors turns out to be laugh-out-loud funnier than the tacky original. It’s too crass and lewd for middle-schoolers, but high-schoolers will enjoy watching these guys on a bad-behavior bender. Adam Sandler returns as Lenny, the Hollywood agent who has moved back to his home town. He has reconnected with his blue-collar high school buddies, and he and his old gang get involved in ridiculous and dangerous stunts.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Being an Adam Sandler movie means never having to say you’re sorry — for pee and poop gags, that is — and “Grown Ups 2” has them in abundance. The sexual innuendo is juvenile but perpetual. Lenny et al. jump naked off a cliff, offering derriere nudity from a distance.
RED 2. Teens who get a charge out of watching eccentrics in or near their 60s crack wise, shoot ’em up and crash cars might find this movie a bit of a hoot. It makes no sense but is full of clever repartee and droll relationship comedy. Most of the cast from “Red” (PG-13, 2010) is back, including Bruce Willis as laconic tough guy Frank Moses and John Malkovich as his oddball pal who shows up to warn him that their former CIA bosses are out to kill them again.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Really violent, albeit bloodless, for a PG-13, “Red 2” includes deafening gunplay, explosions, high-speed chases, crashes and characters killed by nerve gas. It also features the threat of a nuclear device that can wipe out London. Among all the deaths, hardly any blood or injury is shown. One character is drugged; others drink. The script includes mild sexual innuendo, implied nudity, a couple of steamy, comedically intended kissing scenes and moderate profanity.
THE CONJURING. High-schoolers who savor tales of the occult will find satisfying chills in “The Conjuring,” said to be based on a 1971 case in Rhode Island. Yes, it brims with cinematic cliches — creaking doors, mysterious sounds, skittering spirits — but it works. Long-distance trucker Roger and his fragile wife, Carolyn, move with their five daughters into a big, old house, where they discover a boarded-up cellar full of cobwebby antiques and start hearing noises. Two married “demonologists” come to the house and try to expel the demon. The finale involves a violent but not-too-graphic exorcism.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Most of the demons and scenes of possession are relatively understated and without gore. It is the film’s ever-increasing sense of menace, the endangerment of children, suicide themes and the violent treatment of a possessed character during an exorcism — levitation, hurtling against walls — that earn the R rating. The dialogue is relatively free of profanity. One discussion between characters seems to imply that the Salem witch trials of 1692 were justified.
FRUITVALE STATION. This is a serious, edgy drama based on a real incident. Thoughtful high-schoolers aware of the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin will find it compelling. Director-screenwriter Ryan Coogler takes a clear-eyed approach to the story of Oscar Grant, a young African American man who was unarmed when he was fatally shot by a transit officer at the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland, Calif. The movie opens with an actual video (not graphic) of the event taken by a witness. Then it backtracks. We learn that Oscar was not a model citizen; that he once dealt drugs, served time and had anger problems. But he was complex, usually well-meaning and trying to turn his life around.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The shooting in the real video and in the reenactment is not graphic, but the scuffles with police and the fight that breaks out are harshly realistic, as are flashbacks to a time Oscar’s mother visited him in prison. Scenes in the operating room involve a lot of blood. Characters use strong profanity, drink and smoke pot. Oscar and his girlfriend have scenes that are sexually charged but non-explicit.
Horwitz is a freelance writer.
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