Sweet story about compassion, nonviolence has a few scares.
“Ferdinand” is an animated movie based on Munro Leaf’s classic children’s book about a bull who prefers flowers and friendship to aggression and fighting. The movie has strong messages of nonviolence, respect for Ferdinand’s principles, and the friendships that can develop between creatures who are very different from one another. Ferdinand finds clever ways to avoid violence and conflict, including humor and kindness. That said, in some scenes, Ferdinand and other bulls (particularly those who aren’t physically large and aggressive) are called things like “soft,” “flower boy,” “loser” and “dork,” although the message sent by these names is ultimately undermined by Ferdinand’s nonviolent triumph. Expect a couple of potentially scary scenes: Ferdinand is slashed with a spear when he’s trying to avoid a bullfight, a baby is in danger in a crowd (Ferdinand protects her) and Ferdinand sends people flying into the air (no one appears hurt). One character says that either bulls die in the bullring or go to the “chop shop.” A young bull loses his dad (off-screen); we see him searching for his father and crying when he realizes his dad has been killed. There’s some crude humor and innuendo: One character says a bunch of bulls will “fertilize the lawn” after being surprised, and a female character admires a male character’s physique. And although Ferdinand is a strong, confident character who’s a great role model of courage and compassion, some supporting characters are depicted a little stereotypically: An aggressive bull is voiced by an Italian actor with tough-mob-guy flavor, and some horses are given German accents and snooty “European” mannerisms. (107 minutes)
Sci-fi violence, strong female characters in thrilling epic.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is part of the billion-dollar Star Wars saga, continuing the segment of the story that began in “The Force Awakens.” It takes place right after the events of that movie and is just as violent, with several battles, explosions, space chases and close-up duels. There’s one rather explicit death (though it’s not bloody), and several people die in battle, in some cases sacrificing themselves for their mission. A few times it seems like characters are near death, but they recover. Romance-wise, expect to see one quick, chaste kiss and some slightly uncomfortable tension between two other characters. Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren appears shirtless in one scene for no apparent reason other than to fluster a female character, and there’s an odd shot of a character milking a lactating creature and then drinking the milk. Characters also drink cocktails in a luxury casino. Language is tame, with a few uses of words including “damn,” “what the hell,” “shut up” and the like. Directed by Rian Johnson, the movie boasts several strong female characters, including both Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Leia (Carrie Fisher, in her final Star Wars performance), as well as diversity within the Rebellion and strong messages of courage, teamwork, hope, and loyalty. (151 minutes )
Compassionate monster movie/love story has mature content.
“The Shape of Water” is a 1960s-set fantasy/romance about a woman who falls in love with an otherworldly creature and tries to rescue him. It’s from beloved director Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”), and it easily ranks among his best films, but it’s only recommended for older teens and up due to its mature content. Expect to see lots of blood, some jump scares, fighting and hitting, guns and shooting, and other gory/horrific moments (for example, a man rips off his own rotting fingers, and the creature bites a cat’s head off). There’s also full-frontal female nudity and some strong sexual situations: A married couple has sex (viewers see a naked male bottom), a woman masturbates, and the woman and the creature share a kind of supernatural sex scene. Language is also strong, with uses of “f--,” “motherf----r,” “s---,” “p----” and more. Some characters smoke, and one pops pain pills. (118 minutes)
Animal comedy has positive messages but weak story.
“Hedgehogs” is an English-dubbed version of a Chinese-produced animated adventure about the journey of a proud hedgehog named Bobby (voiced by Anthony Padilla) who suffers from memory loss and forgets his identity. The movie — which features the voices of Internet stars like Padilla, Ian Hecox and Jenn McAllister — has a few mild insults like “stupid” and “weirdo” and a few violent confrontations between animals, as well as between animals and humans. There’s an unnecessary scene of a man checking out a woman’s behind and two sets of animal “boyfriends and girlfriends” (who flirt and nearly kiss). Animal-loving purists may be bothered by the fact that the hedgehogs are portrayed inaccurately (the animals are actually nocturnal and don’t throw their quills like porcupines do, for example), but many viewers won’t know the difference, and young kids will probably be entertained by Bobby’s adventures with his pigeon friends and the hedgehog community, which ultimately promotes themes of friendship, teamwork, and asking for help. (93 minutes)
Available on demand.
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