PG Fare Rules the Week

uglydolls

What to Watch in the Theater:
UglyDolls (PG) is in theaters now. Moxy is living her best life in Uglyville, looking forward to the day she finally gets to belong to a child. When she and her friends try to find the wide world, they end up at the Institute of Perfection, which is led by the evil Lou. They are bullied and made to feel that they don’t belong anywhere, but make some new friends who can see that their differences are what makes them unique. There are great messages about loving yourself and embracing your uniqueness, though they are sometimes overshadowed by the emphasis on achieving perfection. The messages are mixed, with the positivity fighting its way through, possibly a little late for young attention spans. Talented voice cast and catchy music add to the bright visuals, for an overall enjoyable ride, with a few bumps along the way.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

detpik

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (PG) opens today. After Tim learns his estranged father has passed away, he meets up with Pikachu, who can actually converse with him! Pikachu is certain his partner (Tim’s dad) is alive, so he and Tim do some sleuthing, along with a young reporter who’s been sniffing around. Their adventure includes danger, a whole lot of Pokemon characters, and some twisty-ness. We were concerned about our lack of Pokemon knowledge at the start, but were still able to connect with and enjoy the story. Plus Pikachu is just so darn cute! This one’s got everything – action, humor and heart. (Our rating would have been higher if we were Pokemon fans. Pikachu is the only one we know, so the representation of other characters is really lost on us. True fans at the screening seemed very excited about seeing their favorites on screen.)
Our rating: 4 out of 5 

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
The Vanishing of Sidney Hall (R) is available on DVD and streaming on Amazon Prime. This story, about a young writer who disappears after finding early success, started a bit slowly, and was a little confusing because it’s told in flashback over three time periods. Once we figured that out, it became more compelling, as major plot points and surprises were revealed. Logan Lerman plays the title character well at different ages, with a strong supporting cast.
Our rating: 3.67 out of 5

The Last Summer (TV14) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. This movie is about a bunch of high schoolers during their summer between high school and college. They’re a likable bunch, whose paths intertwine through relationships and the parties they attend. Of course, their actions don’t always make sense, but they make the best choices they can. It’s an entertaining story, following several plot lines over a short period of time. Popular “teen” actors, like Maia Mitchell, KJ Apa, Tyler Posey, Jacob Latimore, and Halston Sage are part of the cast.
Our rating: 3.33 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news, what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray, and Disney’s newly released movie slate.

Fitting the Pieces Together Nicely

endgame

What to Watch in the Theater:
Avengers: Endgame (PG13) is in theaters now. Giving a spoiler-free review of this movie is next to impossible, but we try. The first scene shows another view of the effects of “the snap” featured at the end of Infinity War, and then we see the remaining Avengers dealing with the aftermath and how to bring the rest back. Time passes, with some moving on and others finding that impossible. Then there’s a new piece to the puzzle, and we’re off on a new adventure, with renewed hope. This movie didn’t feel like it was 3 hours long. It was full of action and emotion, with some expected – and quite a few unexpected – outcomes. It serves as a fitting conclusion to 22 films over 11 years. Stan Lee would be proud. Now, to watch the entire saga again, from start to finish!
Our rating: 4.83 out of 5

longshot

Long Shot (R) opens today. The pairing of Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen had us concerned, but it totally works. She’s a classy workaholic who is Secretary of State (about to announce her presidential candidacy) and he’s a shlumpy outspoken journalist. This is probably Seth’s most likable (and smartest) character to date, keeping the awkwardness but losing just enough of the stoner personality. Charlotte’s accidental reunion with Fred ignites an interesting relationship, when she hires him to write speeches for her, and accompany her on a tour to promote and environmental initiative. As their romance blossoms, we get lots of comedic moments, some great chemistry and great messages about making choices in life. This is a fun one!
Our rating: 4.67 out of 5 (Max’s 6 adjusted to 5 scale)

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Holmes & Watson (PG13) is available on DVD. Our team was split on this one, with two-thirds feeling this was a fun romp, and the other disliking Will Ferrell in this role. It’s definitely a silly re-telling of the Sherlock Holmes story, with Ferrell in the title role and John C. Reilly as a very put-upon Dr. Watson. Holmes is very self-centered, and Watson would like some recognition for the work they do. The latest case involves what Holmes claims is a copycat of his nemesis, Moriarty. The female characters from America add a nice touch, bringing a little distraction (and romance) to the case.
Our rating: 3.67 out of 5

The Last Movie Star (R) is available on DVD and Amazon Prime. This is Burt Reynolds’ final film, and it serves as a fitting swan song. Former box office draw, Vic Edwards, decides to accept an honor in person at a film festival in Tennessee. Upon arrival, he discovers it’s not the prestigious event he expected, and pulls out of the event. With an unlikely sidekick, Lil (played by Ariel Winter), he revisits parts of his past and rediscovers his fans. Clips of Burt’s earlier films are included, as part of the film festival, daydreams, and there’s even a clever film where Vic converses with his younger self. It’s a beautiful homage to a man who was truly a movie star.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news, what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray, and what Netflix and Hulu have to offer in May.

Homage to Earth and Its Animal Inhabitants

penguins

What to Watch in the Theater:
Penguins (G) is in theaters now. The latest light-hearted film from Disneynature follows Steve, an Adelie penguin, as he returns to his home for his first springtime mating season. Beautifully shot, this film shares the beauty of nature, while injecting some humor into the plight of this plucky little guy, just trying to do what’s supposed to come naturally.  We worry about Steve, his mate and their offspring, as there are some precarious situations (and one particularly scary scene with a leopard seal), but overall the tone of the movie is light and hopeful. As in all Disney films, the audience is drawn in by bonding with a relatable character, and it’s a great way to introduce younger kids to nature films.
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

llorona

The Curse of La Llorona (R) is in theaters now. This film, which is part of the Conjuring universe, follows a family that is drawn into a Mexican legend they had no previous knowledge of. Linda Cardellini plays single mom and social worker Anna, fighting for her kids’ lives against the “Weeping Woman.” This movie has all the requisite jump scares and a creepy paranormal figure, without a lot of gore. The R-rating is primarily for moderate violence, mild language and a lot of terror. It gave us a good scare.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Unicorn Store (TVPG) is now streaming exclusively on Netflix. This movie’s lead is a post-Oscar winning, pre-Captain Marvel Brie Larson, and she also makes her directorial debut. Art student, Kit, has been kicked out of school and is determined to get a “real job” and not disappoint her parents. She receives an invitation to a mysterious store, where the quirky salesman (Samuel L. Jackson) promises her the one thing she’s always wanted – a unicorn. Kit must check off some boxes before she receives her mythical best friend, and in the process she (of course) goes on a journey of self discovery, and makes a new friend. This film has important messages about loving yourself, and finding what you really need in life.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

Our Planet (TVG) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. This beautifully shot 8-part series documents different nature topics. This one had a lot of pros and cons for us. The cinematography is the best thing about it, and there’s a great opportunity for learning about a variety of nature subjects. The organization of the material was a little confusing – sometimes geographical, sometimes based on a common element. Jennifer didn’t appreciate nonegenarian narrator David Attenborough’s vocal style. Max saw the series as a nonstop commercial for the WWF (the climate-change messages were a little heavy-handed). There were some devastating scenes of animal peril (stretching the G-rating just a bit). This one is the polar opposite (pun intended) of a Disneynature film.
Our rating: 3.67 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news and what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Keeping the Past in Perspective

best

What to Watch in the Theater:
The Best of Enemies (PG13) is in theaters now. This movie, starring Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell, is based on a true story of school integration in Durham, NC in 1971. After a fire burns half of the blacks-only elementary school, a local black activist and concerned mother, Ann Atwater, faces off against C.P. Ellis, head of the local Klan chapter, in order to ensure a better life for her kids. This film demonstrates how societal pressures affect the outcome of issues, and the people making decisions. This is an important part of history that needs to be remembered, and the story is compelling and well-acted.
Our rating: 4.33 out of 5

mlink

Missing Link (PG) is in theaters now. LAIKA’s latest stop-motion animation features a British adventurer looking for recognition, and his greatest discovery (Mr. Link, the Sasquatch) looking for his place in the world. We have a great appreciation for stop-motion artistry, which almost always goes hand-in-hand with great family entertainment. This one does have some dark elements, as our heroes frequently find themselves in peril AND chased by a bounty hunter. This film is a fun journey, with adventure, humor and heart, plus an awesome voice cast (including Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis and Zoe Saldana).
Our rating: 4.67 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Black Summer (TVMA) is now streaming exclusively on Netflix. This zombie series comes from our friends at The Asylum (most well-known for the Sharknado movies, but Jennifer did a couple of films with them before they found fame with sharks). Max checked out after one episode, because there was no explanation for the zombie outbreak, and he prefers the slow-moving type. Vic is hanging on for all 8 episodes, and has so far enjoyed the first half. This seems more like how a real-life zombie apocalypse could go, which makes it pretty frightening. We follow a variety of characters as they navigate suburbia, dealing with both zombie attacks and their own human flaws, while trying to find their way to the stadium in the city, in hopes of reconnecting with family.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

Stan & Ollie (PG) is available on DVD. The movie documents the relationship between the comic duo during their later years, with some key flashbacks. They’re on tour together in the UK, years after their success in movies, looking forward to producing their own movie for a change. We get a glimpse into the men behind the comedy, with Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly doing a great job of bringing Laurel & Hardy to life. It’s a poignant tale about an important part of our cinematic past.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news, what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray and the latest blockbuster movie trailers.