Reel Reviews

‘Big Hero 6’

Audience: A-II – adults and adolescents


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Not for preteens

Parents be warned: Your kids will want a robot for Christmas. If so, blame “Big Hero 6” (Disney), the latest 3-D animated adventure from the studio that brought you last year’s cuddly must-have sensation, Olaf the snowman from “Frozen.”

This time, it’s Baymax (voice of Scott Adsit), an inflatable vinyl robot designed by a college student, Tadashi (voice of Daniel Henney), to be a “Personal Health Care Companion.” In other words, Baymax is to serve as both nurse and nanny for Tadashi’s troublesome younger brother, Hiro (voice of Ryan Potter).

Unlike Mary Poppins, Baymax is short on words and discipline. Instead, this distant cousin of the Marshmallow Man offers warm, squishy hugs and a playful demeanor – and steals the movie. Unfortunately, the rest of “Big Hero 6” is less inventive and follows a familiar playbook. That’s not especially surprising given that the film is loosely based on a Marvel Comics series.

The setting is the city of San Fransokyo, a mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo: think cable cars and cherry blossoms. Tadashi and Hiro are orphans (a Disney standard), raised by their sassy Aunt Cass (voice of Maya Rudolph). They share a passion for robotics.

After Tadashi dies in a lab explosion under mysterious circumstances, Hiro uncovers an evil conspiracy (naturally), and sets out to find the bad guys. Of course, Hiro needs backup. So Baymax gets a high-tech makeover, which turns him into a version of Iron Man. And an assortment of Tadashi’s college buddies are recruited for the adventure. Superhero feats are not in their nature, however.
With distinctive costumes and high-tech weapons, the sextet – rounded out by Baymax – is christened "Big Hero 6."

The movie morphs into a version of “Revenge of the Nerds.” The film’s Marvel provenance is evident in noisy smash-bang sequences which may be too intense for younger viewers. Parents will appreciate the movie's calmer moments which offer good lessons in friendship, self-sacrifice, and resisting temptation.

Preceding “Big Hero 6” is “Feast,” a charming animated short directed by Patrick Osborne. It offers a dog’s-eye view of life, love, and the pursuit of happiness, one meal at a time. “Feast” is acceptable for all ages.

The film contains mildly scary sequences, references to puberty and some slightly edgy humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

By Joseph McAleer, Catholic News Service

‘The Song’

A-III – adults


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Solomon sings the blues

Taking its inspiration from the Old Testament’s Song of Songs, “The Song” (City on a Hill/Samuel Goldwyn) offers a modern-day parable on love, marriage, and remaining open and faithful to God’s plan.

Writer/director Richard Ramsey cleverly weaves passages from the scriptural canticle (attributed to Solomon) to illustrate love’s eddies and currents, from courtship to marriage, children, and building a life together. The result is a fresh, honest, and very Christian take on timeless issues.

Jed King (Alan Powell of the Christian rock band Anthem Lights) is a singer-songwriter looking for his big break. He’s also trying to escape the long shadow of his famous musician father, David King (Aaron Benward).

We learn in flashback that David was a legend on stage, but a train wreck off. He had an affair with a married band member; a child was conceived, but aborted, with David’s approval. When his lover’s husband committed suicide, David married her, and eventually reformed his life, trying to set a better example for their son, Jed.

It’s not surprising that the sins of the father will one day be visited upon the son. But first, things look up for Jed. Performing at a harvest festival, he meets Rose (Ali Faulkner), and it is love at first sight.

“You have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes,” he croons.

After a sweet courtship, they marry, and have a son. Jeb, still madly in love, writes a song for Rose -- called, simply, “The Song” – and to his surprise it becomes a breakout hit. Seemingly overnight, Jeb is a big star, and hits the road for a worldwide concert tour.

The years pass, and the pressures of fame and frequent separations put a strain on the marriage. Rose remains faithful, keeping the home fires burning. Jeb is inspired, seeing himself as an evangelizer and healer.

“People come to hear my songs. They are looking for meaning, hope, God,” he tells Rose.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as high-minded. Temptation arrives in raven-haired Shelby (Caitlin Nicol-Thomas), Jeb’s new opening act. Shelby spells trouble, mocking Jeb’s “religious” nature -- she prefers to call herself “spiritual” – and encouraging him to get a tattoo (never a good sign).

Needless to say, it’s all downhill from here. Confused and lonely, Jed succumbs, eerily reminiscent of his father’s downward spiral.

Granted, the resolution of “The Song” is predictable, but it is no less refreshing for that. Hollywood can take a lesson from an entertaining film which is openly – and happily – Christian in its outlook, and eager to remind viewers about forgiveness and redemption, as well as the sacredness of married love.

The film contains adulterous situations, suicide, and drug use. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

By Joseph McAleer, Catholic News Service

Monthly List of Recent Film Ratings (September 2014)

CNS classifications: A-I -- general patronage; A-II -- adults and adolescents; A-III -- adults; L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O -- morally offensive.

MPAA ratings: G -- general audiences. All ages admitted; PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children; PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13; R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian; NC-17 -- no one 17 and under admitted.

Across the Divide, A-II (no rating)
And So It Goes, A-III (PG-13)
The Awakening, A-III (R)
Begin Again, A-III (R)
Boyhood, L (R)
Brick Mansions, L (PG-13)
Bully, A-III (PG-13)
Calvary, L (R)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, A-II (PG-13)
Chef, A-III (R)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, A-III (PG-13)
Deliver Us From Evil, L (R)
Draft Day, A-III (PG-13)
Dream House, L (PG-13)
Earth to Echo, A-II (PG)
Edge of Tomorrow, A-III (PG-13)
The Expendables 3, A-III (PG-13)
The Fault in Our Stars, A-III (PG-13)
The Fluffy Movie, A-III (PG-13)
Frances Ha, L (R)
Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, O (R)
Get On Up, A-III (PG-13)
The Giver, A-II (PG-13)
Godzilla, A-III (PG-13)
Guardians of the Galaxy, A-III (PG-13)
Hercules, A-III (PG-13)
How to Train Your Dragon 2, A-I (PG)
The Hundred-Foot Journey, A-III (PG)
Ida, A-III (PG-13)
If I Stay, A-III (PG-13)
Into the Storm, A-III (PG-13)
Jersey Boys, A-III, (R)
Killer Elite, A-III (R)
The Last Exorcism Part II, L (PG-13)
The Legend of Hercules, A-III (PG-13)
Let's Be Cops, L (R)
Lucy, L (R)
Magic in the Moonlight, A-III (PG-13)
Maleficent, A-II (PG)
Mary of Nazareth, A-II (not rated)
Million Dollar Arm, A-III (PG)
A Million Ways to Die in the West, O (R)
Moms' Night Out, A-I (PG)
A Most Wanted Man, A-III (R)
Mr. Peabody & Sherman, A-I (PG)
Neighbors, O (R)
The November Man, O (R)
Obvious Child, O (R)
Phantom, A-III (R)
Planes: Fire & Rescue, A-II (PG)
The Purge: Anarchy, O (R)
Quartet, A-III (PG-13)
Sex Tape, O (R)
Something Borrowed, L (PG-13)
Step Up All In, A-III (PG-13)
Tammy, A-III (R)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, A-II (PG-13)
Think Like a Man Too, O (PG-13)
Transformers: Age of Extinction, A-III (PG-13)
22 Jump Street, O (R)
Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas, A-III (PG-13)
Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, A-III (PG-13)
Warm Bodies, A-III (PG-13)
When the Game Stands Tall, A-II (PG)
The Wind Rises, A-III (PG-13)
X-Men: Days of Future Past, A-III (PG-13)