Well-acted if uneven biopic about RBG’s early life, career.
“On the Basis of Sex” is a biographical drama about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life from her time as one of a handful of women attending Harvard Law School in the late 1950s to her first groundbreaking gender-discrimination case in the early ’70s. The movie is appropriate for teens and mature tweens. It includes a few scenes of non-graphic martial affection intimacy, including kissing, embracing and a glimpse of Ruth in her bra and slip. Language is infrequent but includes a few uses of words like “s---” and “damn.” Audiences will learn a lot about Ginsburg’s personal life and early career, and take away messages about perseverance, integrity and the importance of equal opportunities for all. Felicity Jones stars as Ruth, and Armie Hammer co-stars as her supportive, loving attorney husband, Marty Ginsburg. (120 minutes)
J-Lo glows in friendship comedy with swearing, racy humor.
“Second Act” is a workplace comedy about a woman named Maya (Jennifer Lopez) who uses a fake résumé to land her dream job. It aims to show the value of street smarts vs. book smarts, as well as the value of female friendship. While it would seem like the moral of the story should be “don’t lie,” all of Maya’s dreams do eventually come true as a result of the fibs, which could imply to kids that lying is a winning strategy. Maya’s best friend’s nonstop potty mouth — which is copied by her young son — is played for humor, so there’s lots of swearing (including “s---” and one use of “f---”), but the language eventually has consequences. The friend also makes sexual jokes, and Maya and her long-term boyfriend flirt and shower together (bare shoulders and a man’s chest are shown). Characters kiss, sex is implied, there’s cleavage on display and characters discuss the concept of sexual fetishes. Many real brands are on display, both visually and verbally, particularly high-end skin-care products. The movie has a significant adoption story line about finding a birth mother; it doesn’t portray an instant connection, but rather one that flourishes into a near-BFF relationship. (103 minutes)
Art helps man cope with trauma in fact-based drama.
“Welcome to Marwen” is director Robert Zemeckis’s fact-based drama about a man named Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell) who recovers from trauma by creating a miniature world populated by dolls. Viewers see the trauma — a terrible beating — in brief flashbacks; a couple of upsetting scenes show Mark being kicked and pummeled. Otherwise, violence largely takes the form of bloody battles between the dolls in Mark’s miniature town — they can be a bit gruesome, albeit are played for humor. Dolls riddle other dolls with machine-gun fire, molotov cocktails crisp doll bodies, and a doll falls out of a high tower and his body splits in two. There’s some doll nudity too, with a topless (but also nipple-less) female doll shown fighting and running. Another topless woman is seen in some of Mark’s illustrations. Alcohol played a part in Mark’s attack, so he hasn’t had any since, but he is fighting an addiction to anti-anxiety medications, and he smokes cigarettes. Infrequent swearing includes “s---,” “goddamn,” “hell” and insults such as “kraut,” “queer,” “filthy scum” and “fat a--.” Although the female characters come across as having no feelings or opinions that don’t hinge on Mark and his life, courage, perseverance and emotional growth are clear themes of the film. (116 minutes)
Bad slapstick and innuendo ruin good-natured buddy comedy.
“Holmes & Watson” is an over-the-top comedy starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as the famous literary detective and his loyal companion. Expect lots of slapstick violence, with tons of smacking and hitting. Guns are fired, characters are stabbed and a corpse (and some blood) is shown. There’s also bullying and kids fighting. On the sex front, there’s frequent eyebrow-raising innuendo and racy jokes/references (including several about masturbation), kissing and some sensual flirting and stripping (nothing graphic shown). Language includes a use of “f---ing,” plus uses of “s---” and other words. The main characters get comically drunk in one sequence and use cocaine (played for humor); there are also references to other drugs and a joke about a young girl with alcohol on her breath. (90 minutes)
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