Available in theaters and on HBO Max.
News of the World (PG-13)
Stirring, lyrical Western has peril, some harsh violence.
“News of the World” is a striking Western set in 1870 about a man named Captain Kidd (Tom Hanks), who travels the United States reading the news. He’s tasked with transporting a young White girl, Johanna (Helena Zengel), who was taken by the Kiowa people some years before, back to her biological family members — even though she doesn’t want to go. Expect frequent peril and some scenes of upsetting violence, including guns and shooting, deaths, someone being hanged, a field full of dead buffalo, punching, minor bloody wounds, an injured horse being put down, a scary wagon crash and more. Some of the headlines/news that Kidd reads are potentially upsetting, someone makes a racist comment (it’s portrayed as negative), and it’s implied that some unsavory men want to buy Johanna. A nongraphic scene suggests that two characters had sex. Sporadic language includes “goddamn,” “damn,” “hell,” etc., plus “thank God,” and there’s background drinking. Directed by Paul Greengrass, the movie is stirring and lyrical, and, despite some grim sequences, quite enjoyable. (118 minutes)
Amazing animation, serious themes in existential dramedy.
“Soul” is Pixar’s thought-provoking animated movie about a middle-aged band teacher named Joe (voiced by Jamie Foxx) who nearly dies and gets stuck in the “Great Before” section of the afterlife (where unborn souls prepare to be assigned a trip to Earth) and then tries to make his way back to his body. It’s beautiful and creative, with themes of compassion, empathy, and perseverance, but it’s likely to resonate more with adults who’ve wondered about the meaning of life than with little kids. And while there’s no real violence, the movie makes it ambiguous whether Joe is dead or alive, which could upset or confuse some younger viewers. There are also philosophical themes about the meaning of life that might go over kids’ heads, as well as arguments and a bit of insult language (“imbecile,” “idiot,” “self-absorbed,” etc.). This is Pixar’s first movie with a Black main character, and the all-star voice cast includes Angela Bassett, Daveed Diggs, Phylicia Rashad, and Questlove (plus Tina Fey) and features jazz music composed and supervised by Jon Batiste, as well as a score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. (100 minutes)
Available on Disney Plus.
We Can Be Heroes (PG)
Robert Rodriguez’s superhero-kid adventure has action, humor.
“We Can Be Heroes” is a follow-up to “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl” and is set in the same world as “Spy Kids.” Like those movies, it centers on kids with special powers/abilities saving the day. Expect lots of comical violence, including aliens zapping superheroes, and superheroes punching aliens — but (spoiler alert?) no one dies or is seriously injured. A man is raising his preteen daughter solo because of his wife’s death (not shown). Language includes “oh my God” as an exclamation. The movie has strong messages about teamwork and believing in yourself. The main character, Missy (Yaya Gosselin), exemplifies courage and leadership as she helps the other kids in the movie come together. (100 minutes)
Available on Netflix.
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