Spy comedy misses the mark; loads of action violence.
“Johnny English Strikes Again” is the third slapstick spoof starring British comedian Rowan Atkinson as a bumbling spy (the title comes from “The Pink Panther Strikes Again,” and Johnny English is in the same vein as that series’ Inspector Clouseau). Taking a note from the most recent James Bond films, the plot revolves around an aging British agent who’s brought back into Her Majesty’s Secret Service but prefers his “old-school” methods to modern tech, some of which may leave younger kids lost. Guns are carried, aimed and fired at people, although English is told that “we don’t really do guns anymore” and must sign a liability waiver before being issued one. Most of the movie’s (bloodless) death and destruction is actually unleashed by English’s ineptitude, for which he never expresses remorse; it’s played for laughs, but plenty of people are injured and killed. Former “Bond girl” Olga Kurylenko plays a similar role and (un)dresses for the part, but there’s no 007-style hanky-panky here — just brace yourself for an eyeful of Atkinson’s bare bottom in a nonsexual situation. Drinking cocktails/champagne and popping pills to sleep or for an energy boost are presented as a way of life. Product placement is pretty obvious, with vehicles shown to be tech gadgets in their own right. Language includes infrequent use of words including “a--,” “bollocks,” “dammit,” “hell,” etc. (88 minutes)
Edgy coming-of-age comedy has language, drinking, violence.
“Mid90s” is an edgy coming-of-age story set in 1990s Los Angeles about an unhappy young teen named Stevie (Sunny Suljic) who finds his people: a group of skateboarding, drinking older teens. Expect lots of strong language throughout, especially “f---,” but also many others, as well as racist and homophobic slurs. There’s a fair amount of fighting, including brutal bullying by Stevie’s bigger brother. A sexual encounter between young teens, including the young-looking 13-year-old main character, is shown right up until the point that nudity would occur and is described in some detail later. Teen characters drink a lot, drive drunk and smoke both tobacco and pot. Jonah Hill’s debut as a writer-director also stars Lucas Hedges and Katherine Waterston. (84 minutes)
Celebrity prank show streams laughs and surprises.
“You Kiddin’ Me?!” is a celebrity prank-themed series that streams on Facebook Watch. Lots of goofy, embarrassing moments are orchestrated by the featured celebs’ family members, but the show isn’t intended to be mean-spirited overall. Pranks include yelling, screaming, throwing and breaking things, etc. Words like “p---” are used, but actual curses are bleeped. Alcohol is served at a few of the made-up events, but it’s not prominently shown. (15-minute episodes)
Available via Facebook Watch streaming.
Ambitious family drama-meets-horror story is dark, mature.
“The Haunting of Hill House” is a tense, eerie ghost story crossed with an affecting (and very mature) family drama. Though it draws inspiration from Shirley Jackson’s excellent 1959 novel of the same name, the 10-episode horror series has very little in common with the source material plot-wise; it’s used merely as a jumping-off point. The series touches on issues such as addiction, trauma and mental illness, and there’s a sad story line relating to baby animals that some may find upsetting. Suicide is a running theme, and a person is shown hanging themselves. There are a couple of brief sex scenes, and women are seen in lingerie but not fully nude. One character is a mortician, which means there are several shots involving dead bodies being cut open and processed. Heroin addiction is depicted, with scenes of shooting up and overdosing. Adult characters swear, smoke and drink, often to excess. It is not as consistently gory as some modern horror series and films, but there are plenty of truly chilling scares and disturbing imagery that could cause nightmares for kids both young and old. (10 approximately hour-long episodes)
Available via Netflix streaming.
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