Musical sequel is escapist fun; some innuendo, drinking.
“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is the sequel to 2008’s hugely popular romantic musical “Mamma Mia!,” featuring more earworm-worthy Abba songs. This time, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who’s mourning the unexpected death of her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), reopens a Greek hotel in her mom’s honor. The movie also flashes back to a young Donna (Lily James) meeting the three men who become Sophie’s potential fathers. Like the original, the sequel is frothy fun, with some innuendo and sexual activity (fans already know Donna had three sexual encounters in the same month). But it’s mostly limited to kissing, dancing and flirting. Characters drink in pubs, restaurants and at parties, sometimes acting drunk. Language is infrequent but includes “son of a b----” “c--p,” and “Jesus Christ” (as an exclamation). The movie values strong friendships, open communication and following your dreams; themes also include empathy and gratitude. (114 minutes)
Painfully realistic, tenderly acted coming-of-age dramedy.
“Eighth Grade” is an extremely realistic, relatable indie dramedy about going through adolescence. Elsie Fisher (the voice of Agnes in “Despicable Me”) stars as socially awkward eighth-grader Kayla, a social-media-savvy teen who’s enduring the awkward transition between middle and high school. The biggest red flag here is the frequent strong language (“f---,” “s---,” “p---y” and more). But despite the swearing and some suggestive comments and conversations about hookup culture, implied masturbation, sharing nude photos, and “how far” Kayla has gone or is willing to go physically with a boy, this is a good (if slightly cringeworthy) movie to watch with your teen. There’s much here for parents and their teens to unpack, such as mean-girl behavior, too much/inappropriate screen use, the importance of being careful around older teens (particularly for girls) and saying no to unwanted sexual advances. And ultimately, it also promotes open communication between teens and their parents, as well as courage, since Kayla learns to love and speak up for herself. (93 minutes)
Screen-focused sequel has a much more brutal story.
“Unfriended: Dark Web” is the sequel to 2015’s “Unfriended.” It uses the same everything-happens-via-a-computer execution but has a much darker, more brutal story. Viewers will encounter jump scares and brief but very disturbing images of young women in peril, held captive and tortured: One is shown to have a chunk of metal wedged into a hole that’s been drilled in her skull. There’s also a lot of death overall: Characters are shot, hung, pushed in front of trains and hit by cars. Language includes a few uses of “f---” and “motherf----r,” as well as “a--hole,” “a--” and more. There’s a brief webcam image of a couple having sex (not graphic), and some sex talk is heard. Another brief webcam image shows teens possibly drinking at a party. Many real-life computer apps, websites and brands are used, including Google, Facebook, Spotify, Wikipedia, Apple computers, bitcoin, etc. (88 minutes)
Elegantly animated adaptation of classic book; some violence.
“White Fang” is an animated film based on Jack London’s book. The classic tale, first published in 1906 and adapted for film several times, is noted for its adventure, rugged realism and respect for the natural world. The story follows a young wolf-dog pup through a series of encounters involving both other animals and humans in the Yukon Territory during the Gold Rush in the 1890s. Filmmaker Alexandre Espigares has toned down the book’s intrinsic violence, keeping extensive brutality off camera in most instances. The action scenes are often very short, then the camera moves away, suggesting the acceleration of the violence with sound effects and music. Still, it’s not for young or very sensitive kids because there are many fierce encounters: animals vs. animals, men vs. animals and men vs. men. In one instance, a young woman is held captive, threatened with a knife. Some characters (animal and human) sustain injuries, but no blood is shown. It’s an English-language film made in France by an award-winning and gifted animator. Recommended for older kids and teens and as a shared family experience. (87 minutes)
Available via Netflix streaming.
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