Reel Reviews

‘Blended’

Audience:
A-II – adults and adolescents

 

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A ‘family film’ for teens and older

“Blended” (Warner Bros.) is that rarity of rarities, a sincere family film. Since the movie stars Adam Sandler, whose trademark is scatological gags, it’s more than a bit of a surprise.

At the same time, director Frank Coraci and screenwriters Ivan Menchell and Clare Sera hew to a rigid formula now common for the genre: Each child’s problem is dealt with individually and completely, without condescension.

There’s an exotic element, too, with blended families developing bonds at a high-end safari resort in South Africa. And there’s even an old-fashioned approach about sons needing fathers to teach them lessons about toughness, and daughters needing a mother's uniquely compassionate understanding.

Sandler, widowed Jim, is manager of a sporting-goods store, with daughters Hillary, Espn (pronounced Espin, and named after the cable-sports network) and Lou (Bella Thorne, Emma Fuhrmann and Alyvia Alyn Lind, respectively). Barrymore is the divorced Lauren, a professional closet organizer with sons Brendan and Tyler (Braxton Beckham and Kyle Red Silverstein).

Through a mutual acquaintance’s temporary breakup, they both finagle the same South African getaway for their families. Hilarity usually ensues under such circumstances, but instead, Jim and Lauren quickly rise to the tasks of dealing with their children’s issues, which include the normal physical changes for adolescents.

Such matters are dealt with forthrightly, without descending into any crude remarks. Life is dealt with as it occurs. Mature adolescents shouldn’t have trouble with any of this. The script strains not to offend.

From time to time, a South African male chorus led by Nickens (Terry Crews) pops up to lend amusing commentary. It’s all in good fun, and serves as counterpoint to the two families’ most awkward moments.

Toward the end of the story, Jim and Lauren’s budding romance takes an unexpectedly serious twist involving her ex-husband, Mark (Joel McHale), which keeps matters firmly anchored and away from clichés.

The film contains frank mentions of bodily functions, light sexual banter and fleeting crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

By Kurt Jensen, Catholic News Service

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’

Audience:
A-III – adults

 

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Time travel meets loopy version of American history

There are many surreal moments — Jennifer Lawrence as cerulean shape-shifter Raven/Mystique in a showdown with Richard Nixon, for one — but also some thoughtful moral commentary on whether it’s a good idea to alter the path of history or accept an immutable destiny.

The plot, loaded with the kinetic action sequences familiar from the first films in the series, is quite simple. It’s 2023 and the planet has been devastated by the Sentinels, fire-breathing robots first unleashed — for American defense! — 50 years earlier. As doom descends on the mutants known collectively as X-Men, the elderly versions of Dr. Charles Xavier and Magneto (Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen) argue about the need to rewrite history.

Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has the ability to send someone’s consciousness back in time, so she sends the most indestructible among them, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), to 1973 so he can intercept Raven/Mystique before she assassinates the Sentinels’ inventor, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage).

It was after that event that the blue gal was captured and her DNA replicated to make the Sentinels virtually indestructible. If Trask lives, though, he’ll be imprisoned and the nascent Sentinel program will go away.

Wolverine also grabs the younger Magneto (Michael Fassbender), who is being held in a secret underground prison at the Pentagon after being wrongfully implicated in the assassination of President Kennedy. He’s helped by a new character, Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who escapes every jam with his super-high speed.

Discussions about how a single event changes the future mingle with arguments between the younger Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto about how best to deal with Raven/Mystique. Director Brian Singer and screenwriters Simon Kinberg and Jane Goldman eventually surrender existential angst to the plethora of special effects, including a flying stadium.

The film contains gun and physical violence, fleeting rear male nudity, a reference to nonmarital sexual activity, and fleeting rough and crude language. 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 Kurt Jensen, Catholic News Service

Monthly List of Recent Film Ratings (May 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.

A

About Time, L (R)

All Is Lost, A-III (PG-13)

American Hustle, O (R)

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, A-III (PG-13)

August: Osage County, O (R)

B

Baggage Claim, A-III (PG-13)

Battle of the Year, A-III (PG-13)

The Best Man Holiday, O (R)

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, A-III (PG-13)

Black Nativity, A-II (PG)

The Bling Ring, O (R)

Blue Jasmine, L (PG-13)

The Book Thief, A-II (PG-13)

C

The Call, O (R)

Captain Phillips, A-III (PG-13)

Carrie, L (R)

Christmas for a Dollar, A-I (PG)

Closed Circuit, A-III (R)

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, A-II (PG)

The Collection, O (R)

The Conjuring, A-III (R)

Conviction, L (R)

The Counselor, O (R)

Creature, O (R)

D

Dallas Buyers Club, O (R)

Dark Skies, A-III (PG-13)

Delivery Man, L (PG-13)

Despicable Me 2, A-I (PG)

Devil's Due, A-III (R)

Don Jon, O (R)

E

Elysium, L (R)

End of Watch, O (R)

Ender's Game, A-II (PG-13)

Epic, A-I (PG)

Escape Plan, L (R)

F

The Family, O (R)

The Fifth Estate, A-III (R)

The Five-Year Engagement, O (R)

Flipped, A-III (PG)

47 Ronin, A-III (PG-13)

Free Birds, A-I (PG)

Frozen, A-I (PG)

G

Getaway, A-III (PG-13)

Gimme Shelter, A-III (PG-13)

The Grandmaster, A-III (PG-13)

Gravity, A-III (PG-13)

Grown Ups 2, A-III (PG-13)

Grudge Match, L (PG-13)

H

Haywire, L (R)

The Heat, O (R)

Hellbound?, A-III (no rating)

Hereafter, A-III (PG-13)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, A-II (PG-13)

Homefront, L (R)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, A-III (PG-13)

I

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, L (PG-13)

Inside Llewyn Davis, O (R)

Insidious: Chapter 2, A-III (PG-13)

The Internship, L (PG-13)

J

Jack the Giant Slayer, A-II (PG-13)

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, O (R)

Jobs, A-III (PG-13)

Jurassic Park, A-II (PG-13)

Justice League: War, A-II (PG-13)

Justin Bieber's Believe, A-II (PG)

K

Kick-Ass 2, O (R)

L

Labor Day, L (PG-13)

The Last Exorcism Part II, L (PG-13)

Last Ounce of Courage, A-II (PG)

Last Vegas, A-III (PG-13)

Lee Daniels' The Butler, A-III (PG-13)

The Lone Ranger, L (PG-13)

M

Machete Kills, O (R)

Man of Steel, A-III (PG-13)

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, A-III (PG-13)

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, A-III (PG-13)

N

Nebraska, L (R)

Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D, A-III (PG-13)

The Nut Job, A-I (PG)

O

One Direction: This Is Us, A-II (PG)

Out of the Furnace, L (R)

P

Pacific Rim, A-III (PG-13)

Paranoia, A-III (PG-13)

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, L (R)

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, A-III (PG)

The Perfect Family, O (PG-13)

Philomena, L (PG-13)

Pitch Perfect, A-III (PG-13)

Planes, A-I (G)

Prisoners, L (R)

Promised Land, A-III (R)

The Purge, O (R)

R

RED 2, A-III (PG-13)

Restless Heart, A-II (no rating)

Riddick, O (R)

Ride Along, L (PG-13)

R.I.P.D., A-III (PG-13)

Runner Runner, L (R)

Rush, L (R)

S

Saving Mr. Banks, A-II (PG-13)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, A-III (PG)

Sinister, L (R)

The Smurfs 2, A-I (PG)

Son of Batman, A-II (PG-13)

The Spectacular Now, L (R)

T

This Is the End, O (R)

Thor: The Dark World, A-III (PG-13)

To the Wonder, A-III (PG-13)

Turbo, A-I (PG)

12 Years a Slave, L (R)

2 Guns, L (R)

Tyler Perry's Good Deeds, A-III (PG-13)

W

Walking With Dinosaurs, A-I (PG)

The Way, Way Back, A-III (PG-13)

We're the Millers, O (R)

White House Down, A-III (PG-13)

The Wolf of Wall Street, O (R)

The Wolverine, A-III (PG-13)

World War Z, A-III (PG-13)

The World's End, A-III (R)

Y

You're Next, O (R)