Black Beauty (Unrated)
Peril, emotional intensity in adaptation of classic tale.
This adaptation of Anna Sewell’s 1877 classic novel “Black Beauty” is emotionally taxing, with the central horse suffering abuse, loss and danger. The human characters, too, find themselves in perilous situations, including being dragged, chased, thrown and kicked by horses, nearly drowning in a flooding river and risking their own lives to pull horses out of a burning stable. There’s also emotional intensity throughout. Both the horse, Beauty, and her human soul mate, Jo (Mackenzie Foy), have suffered the loss of their parents and find themselves alone, their spirits nearly broken. Teen riders make fun of Jo for living and working at the stables, saying she smells bad. When Beauty is sold off to a series of different owners, she’s put to hard labor, mistreated and nearly worked to death more than once. Some of these scenes are quite sad; cruelty to animals can be very difficult to watch. That said, the film, told mostly from the horse’s perspective, ultimately shows a clear respect and admiration for the animals, and it conveys positive messages of loyalty, family, perseverance, resilience and courage. It ends on an uplifting note. (109 minutes)
Available on Disney Plus.
Melissa McCarthy fans will like A.I. comedy with pratfalls, kissing.
“Superintelligence” is a comedy about a sophisticated, all-powerful artificial intelligence (A.I.) system that chooses a perfectly “average” woman, Carol Peters (Melissa McCarthy), to test as an example of whether humanity should be saved, enslaved or destroyed. The A.I. (which uses the voice of real-life comedian and talk-show host James Corden) tasks her with reconciling with her ex-boyfriend, George (Bobby Cannavale), to prove that humans are capable of love and redemption. Iffy language is minimal (“what the hell,” “badonkadonk”), but there’s some drinking and an implied love scene (silhouettes shown through closed blinds), as well as kissing. Expect lots of McCarthy’s signature pratfalls and physical comedy — other than that, violent and scary content consists of the A.I.’s threat of mass destruction. Ultimately, though the movie has themes of empathy, compassion and gratitude. (106 minutes)
Available on HBO Max.
Moonbase 8 (TV-14)
Astronaut sitcom features science disasters, body humor.
“Moonbase 8” is a comedy series about three wannabe astronauts training on a simulated moon base in Arizona. The show stars John C. Reilly, Tim Heidecker and Fred Armisen, three actors who are known for absurdist sketch comedy and anti-comedy. However, “Moonbase 8” plays mostly like a straightforward, traditional sitcom. The show builds comedy around the astronauts’ general unpreparedness for their mission. Jokes come from natural and scientific disasters that happen along the way, which sometimes cause great harm to the characters. Bodily function humor is also a big part of the show. For example, at one point the characters drink urine. Otherwise, the content is typical sitcom fare: buffoonery and learning from disastrous mistakes. (Six half-hour episodes)
Available on Showtime.
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