Playing With Fire (PG)

Age 10+

Cena charms, but slapstick-heavy comedy doesn’t fully spark.

Playing With Fire” is a family comedy starring John Cena as “Supe,” an elite smoke-jumping squad leader who rescues three siblings from a fire and has to take responsibility for them until their parents can claim them. The kids wreak havoc at the firehouse, playing with equipment and testing the patience of by-the-book Supe and his loyal crew (John Leguizamo, Keegan-Michael Key and Tyler Mane). There’s not much iffy material, but you can expect a few moments of peril (fires, crashes, a near fall off a cliff), some bathroom humor (the littlest sibling’s poop gets all over) and mild teasing between the children and the adults. A couple flirts/embraces/kisses, a teen tries to give a man text-flirting advice, and there’s a quick image of a poster of a scantily clad woman’s behind. The movie pays tribute to the courage of emergency responders, as well as to the impact of intergenerational friendship, and foster and adoptive parenting. The story encourages adults to prioritize family and friends over professional ambition and has themes of empathy and teamwork. (96 minutes)

Last Christmas (PG-13)

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Age 13+

Musically inspired rom-com has big heart; language, innuendo.

Last Christmas” is a holiday rom-com that centers on Kate (Emilia Clarke of “Game of Thrones”), who survived a life-threatening illness and now shows signs of depression. She engages in reckless behavior — drinking too much, acting irresponsibly and hooking up for casual sex (nudity is implied in at least one scene) — and is on the verge of being homeless. Her parents fled to England during Yugoslavia’s civil war, and the movie addresses anti-immigrant sentiment. The film is quite diverse; characters represent a variety of ethnicities, sexual orientations, disabilities and nonstereotypical gender roles. There are also positive representations of a same-sex couple (a subplot involves them being forced out of the closet) and residents of a homeless shelter. The benefits of doing service work and unplugging to engage with the world around you are some of film’s messages. Swearing is mostly “s---” and British sexual slang (“wanker,” “shag,” “snog”). Henry Golding (“Crazy Rich Asians”) and Emma Thompson co-star, and the film heavily features music from George Michael and Wham!. (102 minutes)

Midway (PG-13)

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Age 13+

Battle epic tries hard but is too long and hard to follow.

Midway” is director Roland Emmerich’s action-heavy drama about one of World War II’s biggest battles. As you might expect from a war movie, there’s pervasive conflict and violence, with many scenes of explosions, bombs and sudden, violent deaths. The camera doesn’t linger on bloody wounds, but you’ll see many dead bodies, including some that are burned black. Characters also look swollen and bruised, and some are held captive; one is killed by being tied to an anchor and dumped off a ship. Expect lots of military guns, ships and planes. Sexual content is limited to a few kisses between married couples and one reference to a soldier “chasing tail.” Frequent swearing includes “a--,” “s---,” “son of a b----” and more. Japanese people are consistently referred to with an ethnic slur in a sneering tone, and at one point, male soldiers are referred to as “ladies” as an insult. Characters smoke pipes, cigars and, most often, cigarettes. Scenes take place at bars, with characters making toasts and sometimes getting drunk and lurching around. Both American and Japanese men are depicted sympathetically (women are barely present here), but there aren’t many obvious role models here, because most characters have very little screen time. A Japanese sailor’s decision to go down with his ship is viewed as honorable. Courage and teamwork are evident in the way soldiers on both sides unite for common goals. Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid, Nick Jonas, Luke Evans, Patrick Wilson and more co-star. (138 minutes)

Doctor Sleep (R)

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Age 16+

Well-made “Shining” sequel has intense violence toward kids.

Doctor Sleep” is a horror movie adapted from a Stephen King novel; it’s the official sequel to “The Shining.” Violence is quite intense: Children are shown in peril, screaming and dying, and there are guns and shooting, fighting and punching, an ax fight, bloody wounds, gore, a sexual predator and more. The naked ghost of an elderly woman is back, a man wakes up naked in bed with a woman (his buttocks are shown, and she’s shown from the side) and characters kiss. Language includes uses of “f---,” “s---, “b---” and more. The main character (Ewan McGregor) is an alcoholic who drinks, passes out, wakes up in unfamiliar places and vomits. He eventually goes to AA meetings and quits. A woman snorts cocaine. Directed by Mike Flanagan, the film can’t compare to Stanley Kubrick’s original, but, despite the upsetting violence toward kids, it’s a well-made, involving sequel for mature viewers. (152 minutes)

Common Sense Media helps families make smart media choices. Go to commonsensemedia.org for age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites and books.

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