Jackman and Zendaya entertain in musical Barnum biopic.
"The Greatest Showman" is a biographical musical from the songwriters of "La La Land" that stars Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, who starts out as a penniless orphan but becomes the world-renowned creator of the circus. There's a bit of language ("damn," the racial slur "spooks," "oh God," etc.) and violence (protesters burn down the circus, a man slaps a young boy), as well as some drama surrounding the movie's interracial romance, which was taboo at the time. But overall the plot and songs are easy enough for tweens to follow — and with Zendaya and Zac Efron co-starring, the movie is likely to appeal to them. Although it's based on factual events, the movie only covers a short period in Barnum's life and glosses over certain aspects of his career. It's not garnering the same kind of acclaim as "La La Land," but "The Greatest Showman's" charming leads and circus scenes should make it a fun pick for families who enjoy history, musical theater and, of course, the circus. (105 minutes)
Star-studded reboot is charming; some iffy stuff.
"Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" is a new take on 1995's "Jumanji." This time, instead of entering a board game, the players enter a video game. The popular stars, including Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan, are likely to appeal to audiences of all ages. Expect some swearing (mostly "s---" and "a--"), as well as action violence — the main characters each die multiple times within the game (but they're regenerated quickly) — and a couple of jump-scares. Characters kiss and flirt awkwardly, and there are several references to dating, experience and the humor of having a penis (one of the female teens is in a male avatar for most of the movie). There are also references to how girls/women can "distract men" with their attention and body, which doesn't send a great message to girls. That said, the Rock's character's body is also objectified. Still, there are positive themes here related to teamwork, empathy, selflessness and communication, making this an easy pick for families who enjoy action adventures — especially if they saw the original movie or read the Chris Van Allsburg book on which both films are based. (118 minutes)
Uneven series finale is best when there's music.
"Pitch Perfect 3" is the last movie in the a-cappella-themed "Pitch Perfect" franchise starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Hailee Steinfeld. It still has plenty of singing and riff-offs, though there's also an action/suspense subplot that has a few scenes of peril and potential danger. But all of the Bellas are fine, and no one is hurt (although Amy beats up a lot of people). There's considerably less romance in this movie than the earlier ones, but you can expect a couple of kisses and plenty of innuendo, particularly about vaginas. Language includes
"b-----s," "s---" and more. The two commentators (Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins) make sexist jokes, but aside from a bit about Amy (Wilson) starring in a one-woman show about "Fat Amy Winehouse," there are fewer fat jokes. And, as with all the "Pitch Perfect" movies, the underlying messages are about teamwork and the power of friendship. (93 minutes)
Tons of language, violence in fantasy/cop movie mash-up.
Although "Bright" has orcs, elves and fairies, this is no fluffy fantasy movie. Instead, it's more of a gritty cop action film, with the kind of language and violence you'd expect from that genre. There are over-the-top gunfights (with all kinds of weapons), stabbings and slashings with flowing blood and gang-style beat downs of police officers. Language is also pervasive and includes "f---,"
"s---" and more. There's also brief strip-club nudity (a topless human women) and some drinking and drug use. Will Smith and Joel Edgerton co-star. (117 minutes)
Via Netflix streaming.
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