The Photograph (PG-13)
Genuine romantic drama positively showcases black love.
“The Photograph” is a romantic drama about two middle-class black millennial professionals (Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield) living in New York City. The characters’ on-screen relationships are free of trauma, abuse or any other negative stereotypes — overall, the film is full of positive depictions of black life. Adults drink socially and kiss. There’s a tasteful sex scene that doesn’t include nudity, some innuendo and brief swearing (“f---”). The film is free of violence, and it offers themes of communication, compassion, courage and curiosity, plus messages about the importance of love, family and female friendships. Inspired by favorites like “Love & Basketball” and “Love Jones,” this film is age-appropriate for teens and portrays falling in love in a universal way. It’s directed and written by Stella Meghie (“Insecure,” “Grown-ish”). (106 minutes)
Blumhouse's Fantasy Island (PG-13)
Horror reboot of ’70s TV series is violent, cheesy fun.
“Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island” is a horror take on the classic 1970s/1980s TV series. Just like on the show, characters’ fantasies never go as expected — but in this slasher-like version, that means tons of violence and blood. Scenes of fun and contentment turn into intense peril, and people are killed in a variety of ways: They’re gunned down, stabbed and blown up. There are also scenes of torture and some with frightening, zombielike creatures. Expect to see lots of flashy partying early on, with barely clad people, a lavish house, free-flowing cocktails and mentions of drug use (one main character is shown lighting a bong). Sexual innuendo gets fairly racy, but it’s mostly talk. Speaking of talk, expect to hear a few swear words (“a--hole,” “s---,” etc.). The movie deals with themes of regret, forgiveness, bullying and loss. The diverse cast includes Michael Peña, Lucy Hale, Maggie Q, Portia Doubleday and Jimmy O. Yang. (110 minutes)
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (G)
Delightful family-friendly sequel has positive themes.
“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” is a stand-alone stop-motion sequel to “Shaun the Sheep Movie” and a spinoff of Aardman Animation’s short-form TV series. Brimming with positive messages — teamwork, friendship and inclusiveness — and with a sci-fi twist, it’s a great pick for the whole family. As with the first movie, there’s no spoken dialogue, just expressive sounds from Shaun (voiced by Justin Fletcher) and his friends, interspersed with a musical soundtrack. Violence is slapstick and cartoonish — characters are hit in the face with food and a flying disc, etc. — but there are some moments of peril, danger and separation (from parents) that may frighten very young viewers. Agent Red (Kate Harbour) is deliberately sinister as the movie’s villain who’s determined to capture an alien named Lu-La who arrives on Shaun’s farm (Amalia Vitale). But even her behavior is later explained sympathetically. A van, a harvester and a UFO all crash at different points in the movie, but no one is harmed. Lu-La is separated from her extraterrestrial parents, which may cause distress to some. There is some toilet humor, such as when Lu-La belches so loud that she’s heard across the globe. The end credits include a brief a glimpse of the Farmer’s (John Sparkes) buttocks, and a photo shows two nude adults with their sensitive areas covered by carefully positioned fingers and thumbs. (86 minutes)
Available via Netflix streaming.
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.