Movie and DVD/Blu-ray Reviews for You and Your Family
By Jane Louise Boursaw
September means the kids are heading back to school, but also that Nemo is heading back to theaters, Bradley Cooper is plugging in his laptop, and Jennifer Lawrence is dealing with scary neighbors. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s new in theaters and on DVD and blu-ray this month.
JONAH AND THE WHALE
Not yet rated; likely PG-13. In theaters 9/04. Ok for kids 13+. Reel Preview: 3 out of 5 Reels. http://www.jonahandthewhalemovie.com
I’m not gonna lie. I know precious little about this movie directed by Daniel Maze, because there’s been no info released to the press yet—which is odd, considering we’re less than a month away from its theatrical premiere. But here’s what I do know. It’s a romantic comedy starring Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay in High School Musical), G Hannelius (Dakota in Sonny With a Chance), and Joel David Moore (Joey Ramone in the upcoming film CBGB). By the time you read this, there may be more info on the official website, but for now, all we get is a tagline: “An unlikely pair, an unbelievable night.” Because High School Musical and Hannah Montana are listed with the actor’s names (G Hannelius had a tiny role in Hannah Montana back in 2009), I’m guessing they’re targeting the teens who grew up with those shows.
PG-13 for brief strong language and smoking. In theaters 9/07. Ok for kids 14+. Reel Preview: 4 out of 5 Reels. http://www.thewordsmovie.com
Bradley Cooper could easily have taken the handsome-guy, action-hero path, but instead he continues to choose thoughtful films with a message. In this romantic drama, he plays Rory Jansen, a writer who finally achieves literary success after publishing the next great American novel. There’s just one catch. He didn’t write it. As the past comes back to haunt him, Jansen is forced to confront the steep price that must be paid for stealing another man’s work, and for placing ambition and success above the important things in life. Olivia Wilde, Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid and Jeremy Irons also star in this film, directed by Brian Klugman.
Rated G. In theaters 9/10. Ok for kids 7+. Reel Preview: 2.5 out of 5 Reels. http://www.facebook.com/radicalsthemovie
This family comedy follows eight kids who develop their natural talents to superhero levels—smarter, faster, you get the drift. The storyline probably won’t win an Oscar, but the kids and dogs are super cute. Yes, there are dogs. And an evil villain who kidnaps those dogs to pull off the crime of the century. Something to do with using bombs to rob banks and seek global domination. That’s what all villains are after, isn’t it?
FINDING NEMO 3D
Rated G. In theaters 9/14. Ok for kids 5+. Reel Review: 5 out of 5 Reels. http://disney.go.com/finding-nemo/home
They’re back! In 3D! If you don’t usually bother seeing older movies re-released in 3D, I’m begging you to go see Finding Nemo in 3D. Not only is this animated Disney/Pixar tale one of my favorite movies of all time, the 3D version makes it brand new all over again. You know the story: when a little clown fish named Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould) gets nabbed by a passing boat and set up in a dentist’s fish tank in Sydney, Australia, his timid dad Marlin (Albert Brooks) sets out to find the little guy. Marlin meets a blue tang fish named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) with short-term memory loss, and together they cross the ocean and encounter various sea creatures like dangerous jellyfish, mind-numbing seagulls and hip turtles (“Grab shell, dude!”). Meanwhile, there’s a whole theatrical drama taking place in the dentist’s fish tank, where Nemo meets some new friends. Best.Movie.Ever!
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, thematic elements, language, some teen partying and brief drug material. In theaters 9/21. Ok for kids 15+. Reel Preview: 4 out of 5 Reels. http://www.facebook.com/HouseAtTheEnd
Jennifer Lawrence has a huge fan base ever since her knock-out performance as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games earlier this year. In House at the End of the Street, she plays a girl named Elissa who moves with her mom (Elisabeth Shue) to a new town—next door to a house where a young girl murdered her parents. When Elissa befriends the surviving son, she learns the story is far from over. I’m guessing the filmmakers lobbied for a PG-13 rating to draw in all of Lawrence’s fans, but this movie edges towards an R rating. Directed by Mark Tonderai and produced by Aaron Ryder (Donnie Darko and Memento), look for plot twists, arthouse drama, and lots of thrills.
Not yet rated; likely PG. In theaters 9/28. Ok for kids 7+. Reel Preview: 4 out of 5 Reels. http://www.welcometohotelt.com
Here’s a new twist on the whole vampire business. Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) operates a high-end resort where monsters go to get away from it all. Hey, they need a break sometimes, too. Anyway, Dracula has a teenage daughter named Mavis (Selena Gomez), and when a human boy (Andy Samberg) discovers the resort and falls for her, Dracula goes into serious overprotective mode. It’s not pretty, but it’s pretty funny. Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who’s worked on Star Wars: Clone Wars, Iron Man 2 and How to Eat Fried Worms, this movie also features the voices of Kevin James, David Space, Fran Drescher, Jon Lovitz, Molly Shannon and Steve Buscemi.
NEW ON DVD | BLU-RAY:
PG-13 for disaster related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language. On DVD/blu-ray 9/10. Ok for kids 13+. Reel Rating: 5 out of 5 Reels. http://www.titanicmovie.com
After its 3D theatrical run earlier this year, Paramount is re-releasing Titanic in a 2-disc DVD set, a 4-disc DVD/blu-ray set, and a 4-disc 3D set. Mainly what you’re getting in the way of bonus features is 30 deleted scenes on the DVD set, and on the blu-ray/3D sets, filmmaker commentaries and 6+ hours of special features, including two all-new documentaries, 60 behind-the-scenes featurettes and more. If you’re a fan of James Cameron’s Oscar-winning disaster flick starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, shell out a few extra bucks for the blu-ray set. It’s worth every penny.
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN
PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality. On DVD/blu-ray 9/11. Ok for kids 14+. Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels. http://www.snowwhiteandthehuntsman.com
This will forever be known as the movie that broke up Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson (she had an affair with the director, Rupert Sanders, in case you hadn’t heard), but it’s not a bad movie. In fact, I really liked it. The classic fairytale gets a makeover with Stewart playing the beautiful princess, Chris Hemsworth as the handsome huntsman, and Charlize Theron as the homicidal Queen Ravenna. It’s dark, though, and Charlize plucks organs out of animals and eats them like potato chips. Not for kids younger than 14.
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: SEASON 3
TV-14 (intense violence). On DVD/blu-ray 9/11. Ok for kids 14+. Reel Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Reels. http://www.cwtv.com/shows/the-vampire-diaries
If there’s a teen girl in your household, you’ve probably heard about The Vampire Diaries, The CW’s sinister TV show about vampires, werewolves and other creatures of the night. Yes, it’s dark and sometimes violent, but ok for teens 14 and older. In season three, Stefan (Paul Wesley) succumbs to Klaus, and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Elena (Nina Dobrev) join forces to try to save him, rekindling their long-repressed emotions. Meanwhile the door to the other side opens wide, allowing spirits to come between Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) and Bonnie (Kat Graham), while Caroline (Candice Accola) and Tyler (Michael Trevino) grow closer. But when the original vampire hunter and his kin rise out of their caskets after 1000 years, every vampire, werewolf, ghost, and witch in Mystic Falls had better beware. Season four premieres on The CW Oct. 11, 2012.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
PG-13 for sexual content and language. On DVD/blu-ray 9/18. Ok for kids 12+. Reel Rating: 5 out of 5 Reels. http://www.foxsearchlight.com/thebestexoticmarigoldhotel
This enchanting story from Fox Searchlight finds assorted retirees traveling to India seeking something more in their later years. Enticed by advertisements for the newly-restored Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, they arrive to find the once-glorious palace a shell of its former self. With a backdrop of colorful India, the story and characters take center stage in this film directed by John Madden and starring Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Maggie Smith and Dev Patel.
PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference. On DVD/blu-ray 9/25. Ok for kids 12+. Reel Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Reels. http://marvel.com/avengers_movie
If you didn’t catch The Avengers in theaters, well, you’re one of the three people on the planet who didn’t. The film opened to a record-breaking $207 million the first weekend, and only grew from there. Samuel L. Jackson plays Nick Fury, the director of the international peace-keeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s a veritable who’s who of Marvel superheroes, including Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). When global security is threatened by Loki and his cohorts, Fury and his team must save the world from disaster. Assorted DVD and blu-ray sets are available with tons of bonus features.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender.
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.