Reel Reviews

‘Finding Dory’

A-I – general patronage


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A funny fish story

Fans of the 2003 animated adventure “Finding Nemo” have reason to rejoice. The long wait for a sequel is over, and the follow-up, “Finding Dory” (Disney), once again turns vast expanses of salt water into tasty taffy. The result is a dandy treat for moviegoers of almost all ages.

The buoyant new film’s entertainment value, moreover, is moored to solid morals.

Working with co-director Angus MacLane, writer-director Andrew Stanton sets the earlier picture’s trio of main characters on another epic journey. This one is undertaken to reunite the absent-minded blue tang of the title (voice of Ellen DeGeneres) with her long-lost parents, Jenny (voice of Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy).

Accompanying Dory on her eventful quest are Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks) and Nemo (voice of Hayden Rolence), the father-and-son duo of clownfish she befriended in the first outing. In fact, this can be seen as a tale of two families since Dory’s bond with widowed worrywart Marlin goes deeper than mere friendship, while the care she provides sprightly Nemo is distinctly maternal. All of that is left largely unspoken however.

Dory’s hunt eventually leads to the Marine Life Institute, a fictional aquarium on the coast of California. There she gains the help of three more pals: curmudgeonly octopus Hank (voice of Ed O’Neill); Bailey (voice of Ty Burrell), a beluga whale with defective sonar skills; and nearsighted whale shark Destiny (voice of Kaitlin Olson).

Through it all, the plot conveys life lessons about family loyalty, teamwork and the proper balance between courage and caution via a script full of gentle humor and appealing personalities. But his most impressive achievement is the use to which he puts the various disabilities on display. While these challenges are sometimes milked for comedy, at a more basic level Stanton portrays them to send an implicit anti-bullying and pro-life message to youthful viewers.

Objectionable elements are virtually absent. During an underwater schoolroom scene, Dory – mistakenly believing that one of the kids has asked her about the birds and the bees – launches into a boilerplate explanation that only patrons of a certain age will understand. She’s quickly cut off.

At a moment of danger, Hank instinctively releases a wave of black ink. Dory tries to relieve his subsequent embarrassment about this with a brief verbal reaction that the strictest might insist on identifying as a bit of potty humor.

On the other hand, the dangers lurking in the deep lead to brief incidents of jeopardy for our buddies on screen that may prove too intense for small fry.

The film contains scenes of peril, a distant reference to clichés about the facts of life, and equally vague bathroom humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I – general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

By John Mulderig, Catholic News Service

‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’

A-II -- adults and adolescents


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Just for the fun of it

Genetic engineering explained so that 13-year-old boys can easily comprehend it is one of the features of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” (Paramount).

But deep thoughts about science aren’t the point of this, the second film in the franchise since its 2014 reboot. They’re more like passing considerations as the nocturnal, sewer-dwelling crime-fighting terrapins take on their familiar nemesis, Shredder (Brian Tee).

Shredder has come up with a DNA-altering substance called Purple Ooze, the application of which turns humans into the violent primitive animal to which they’re most closely related.

This way, his henchmen Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly) can turn into a giant warthog and rhinoceros. Shredder’s goal, once he joins forces with the slimy Krang (voice of Brad Garrett) and mad scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), is to create a giant army for world domination, as bad guys like to do.

Michelangelo (voice of Noel Fisher), Donatello (voice of Jeremy Howard), Leonardo (voice of Pete Ploszek) and Raphael (voice of Alan Ritchson) learn that when the ooze is applied to themselves, they can go the opposite direction and transform into at least a semblance of human form. This way, they’ll finally be able to fit into society.

So, a discussion of what it means to be fully human? In a Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? Are you kidding? We’re not, but director Dave Green and screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec sort of are.

The moment of self-doubt flitters by in a minute, then the filmmakers remain faithful to the tropes of action pictures with ramped-up CGI animation. The green guys, helped as always by their pal April (Megan Fox), return to the importance of teamwork as they resume their hyperkinetic adventures, which include skydiving, racing down highways around New York City, zooming down the Amazon River in search of a missing part needed for a teleportation device, and befuddling human police officers.

This is a film with a clear target audience of adolescent boys. It has no more larger purpose than any thrill ride, video game or bag of candy. No learning will take place.

The film contains intense action sequences, cartoonish violence and a single scatological reference. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II – adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating, 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 (June 2015)

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.

The Age of Adaline, A-III (PG-13)
Aloha, A-II (PG-13)
Avengers: Age of Ultron, A-III (PG-13)
The Awakening, A-III (R)
Begin Again, A-III (R)
Chappie, L (R)
Child 44, A-III (R)
Cinderella, A-I (PG)
The D Train, O (R)
Danny Collins, A-III (R)
The Divergent Series: Insurgent, A-III (PG-13)
Do You Believe?, A-II (PG-13)
Dream House, L (PG-13)
The DUFF, A-III (PG-13)
Ex Machina, O (R)
Far from the Madding Crowd, A-II (PG-13)
Focus, L (R)
Furious 7, A-III (PG-13)
Get Hard, O (R)
The Gunman, L (R)
Home, A-I (PG)
Hot Pursuit, A-III (PG-13)
It Follows, O (R)
Jupiter Ascending, A-III (PG-13)
Kingsman: The Secret Service, A-III (R)
The Last Exorcism Part II, L (PG-13)
The Lazarus Effect, A-III (PG-13)
Little Boy, A-II (PG-13)
The Longest Ride, A-III (PG-13)
Mad Max: Fury Road, L (R)
Marie's Story, A-II (not rated)
McFarland, USA, A-II (PG)
Monkey Kingdom, A-I (G)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, A-I (PG)
Pitch Perfect 2, A-III (PG-13)
Poltergeist, A-III (PG-13)
Project Almanac, A-III (PG-13)
The Pyramid, A-III (R)
Run All Night, L (R)
San Andreas, A-III (PG-13)
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, A-III (PG)
Seventh Son, A-II (PG-13)
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, A-I (PG)
Tomorrowland, A-II (PG)
The Trip to Italy, A-III (not rated)
True Story, A-III (R)
Unfinished Business, O (R)
Unfriended, O (R)
The Water Diviner, A-III (R)
Woman in Gold, A-II (PG-13)

Copyright (c) 2015 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops