Epic but violent adventure offers diversity, role models.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is set just before the events of “Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope,” focusing on the rebel spies who managed to steal the plans for the original Death Star. Although the Star Wars franchise is popular with fans of all ages, this installment gets quite violent (somewhat more so than 2015’s “A Force Awakens”), with scenes that make painfully clear the sacrifices and casualties necessary in a war against tyrannical evil. There’s a high body count, as well as violence that’s both large-scale (even the Death Star’s early, limited attacks cause mass destruction) and up close and personal. The cast is very diverse, and there are many admirable role models, particularly brave, tough, capable Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). And the movie’s story repeatedly demonstrates the importance of trust, friendship, courage, teamwork, loyalty and doing the right thing. (133 minutes)
Profound, beautiful film about love and creativity.
“La La Land” is a beautiful, moving romantic musical set in modern-day Los Angeles, with the feel of old-time Hollywood. It stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and has plenty of frothy, whimsical moments, plus messages about integrity, love and following your dreams. But it also tackles material that may prove too heavy for younger viewers, including underemployment, feeling lost in the early years of your career, questioning your abilities and fighting to stay in the moment while searching for your purpose. Expect some swearing (including one use of “f---”), as well as social drinking, kissing and characters waking up in bed together. (128 minutes)
Cast is best part of sentimental drama about grief.
“Collateral Beauty” is an emotional drama about an advertising genius (Will Smith) who’s lost the will to work in the three years since his young daughter’s death. The movie tackles mature themes related to grief (grieving parents tell stories about their dead children), loss, divorce, work-life balance and death, so although the content isn’t all that edgy, it’s likely too heavy for younger viewers. Occasional strong language includes “bulls---,”
“s---,” “ass,” “bitch,” and one “f---ing.” A man nearly gets into accidents on his bike, and there’s some mild flirting, references to adultery and a few couples who embrace. The movie promotes compassion and empathy, and viewers will get plenty of lessons about the importance of family and how life has three ultimate motivators: time, love and death. (97 minutes)
Heartwarming television special is true to Dr. Seuss’s classic book.
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (1966) is an animated version of Dr. Seuss’s classic children’s tale — read line-by-line by Boris Karloff — with moments of extremely mild peril. The Grinch’s dog is treated poorly — slammed into snow drifts and run over by the sleigh. And very young or sensitive children may become a little upset at the Grinch stealing all the Whos’ Christmas presents. But there’s far more to recommend in this perennial favorite than there is to worry about. It’s a classic that’s practically required holiday viewing for families that celebrate Christmas. (26 minutes)
Available via iTunes and Amazon Video. Airing on NBC on Dec. 23 at 8 p.m.
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