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‘The House’ is for losers

July 7th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Had “The House” been made as a taut, dark comedy about the price of greed, it might have some merit. Instead, director Andrew Jay Cohen, who co-wrote the screenplay with Brendan O’Brien, has produced a sloppy, illogical, cringe-inducing time-waster.

Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler and Jason Mantzoukas star in a scene from the movie "The House." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler and Jason Mantzoukas star in a scene from the movie “The House.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. (CNS photo/Warner Bros.)

Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler as Scott and Kate Johansen are demonstrably stupid about the basics of financial security. But they are aware they’re in over their heads with debt. “We played by the rules and this is where it got us,” Scott complains bitterly.

Everyone’s happy when daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) is accepted at Bucknell University. But they were counting on a free-ride scholarship offered by their town, and the town council decides to build an elaborate community pool instead.

The couple’s solution is to go into partnership with their friend Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) to open a gambling den in his home. Frank’s trying to avoid foreclosure and get back with his wife, Raina (Michaela Watkins), who has been asking for a divorce.

Since the gambling house always wins, they figure that this is a foolproof scheme. What they don’t realize, of course, is that they’re complete fools, and that all such criminal enterprises eventually face justice.

Chaos descends quickly, with Frank putting the casino into heavy debt with high-end amenities, and the jollity comes to an abrupt end when Scott, threatening an accused cheater, unintentionally chops off his finger with a hatchet.

Light on the yucks but heavy on the yuk, “The House” becomes an onerous trial of the viewer’s attention span.

The film contains a lengthy gory sequence and frequent rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O, morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R.

 

Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

 

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Spider-Man ‘re-spun’ for ‘Homecoming’

July 5th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

There’s much to like about the vibrant comic-book adaptation “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Besides an unslacking pace and a clever central plot twist, there’s the fact that the mayhem on display is kept virtually bloodless.

And the film showcases both loyal friendship and restrained romance.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man stars in a scene from the movie "Spider-Man: Homecoming." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man stars in a scene from the movie “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults.

As detailed below, however, some of the dialogue places this summertime diversion off-limits for the many youngsters who would otherwise likely enjoy it. That said, at least some parents may consider it acceptable for older adolescents.

With 33-year-old Andrew Garfield, star of the last two Spider-Man films, having presumably outgrown the persona of eternally 15-year-old Peter Parker, and with a relatively new collaboration between Sony and Marvel Comics now controlling the character, it’s time for some changes in the longstanding franchise.

So Tom Holland steps into the shoes, make that boots, of the world’s most famous web-slinger, and we start the story afresh.

Some elements of Peter’s familiar saga endure. Thus, he continues to lead a double life in an effort to keep his extra-curricular crime-fighting activities concealed from his easily worried guardian, Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).

While she provides him with guidance in everyday life, as tipped in last year’s “Captain America: Civil War,” Peter’s alter ego has acquired a mentor in the person of industrialist Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). Peter also has developed a new ambition: he yearns to secure a place among the elite Avengers with whom he mixed in that 2016 outing.

Given his youth and inexperience, Stark urges Peter to focus on thwarting petty neighborhood misdemeanors. But an irresistible target of a very different kind emerges when Peter stumbles across the dangerous schemes of mechanically winged villain Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture (Michael Keaton).

Toomes is busy selling high-tech weapons on the black market, and has no intention of having his commerce interfered with by Spidey.

In between nocturnal battles with the bad guys, Peter prepares to lead his school’s team at an academic decathlon to be held in Washington. Teammates include his best pal, Ned (Jacob Batalon), and Liz (Laura Harrier), the senior for whom sophomore Peter pines.

Director and co-writer Jon Watts crafts a lively and satisfying action adventure. But, as typified by the male-body-part nickname taunting fellow student Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) saddles Peter with, and incites a crowd to chant repeatedly, the collaborative script (on which Watts worked with five others) is unfit for kids. That’s too bad since they’ll be missing out on quite a bit of fun.

The film contains much stylized violence, including gunplay and a beating, a gruesome image, brief sexual humor, a couple of mild oaths, a few crude expressions and an obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

 

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Adults may enjoy taking ‘Baby Driver’ for a spin

By

Catholic News Service

Stylish and energetic, the high-octane crime drama “Baby Driver” blends pop music, dizzying car chases and some dark humor to impressive effect.

Ansel Elgort and Lily James star in a scene from the movie "Baby Driver." The Catholic News Service classification is L, Limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/Sony)

Ansel Elgort and Lily James star in a scene from the movie “Baby Driver.” The Catholic News Service classification is L, Limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/Sony)

While the film’s basic values are sound, however, late plot developments involve a quantity of bloodletting that will seem excessive to many moviegoers.

Ansel Elgort plays the title character, who prefers the moniker Baby to his real name. An otherwise decent young man, Baby is being forced to serve as the getaway driver in a series of bank robberies to pay off a debt he incurred to callous mobster Doc (Kevin Spacey).

This brings him into contact and collaboration with a series of lowlifes, including Wall Street executive-turned-thief Buddy (Jon Hamm), Buddy’s moll Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) and aptly nicknamed psychopath Bats (Jamie Foxx). The better part of Baby’s nature, meanwhile, is expressed in the care he gives his deaf and ailing foster father, Joe (CJ Jones), and in his romance with sprightly diner waitress Debora (Lily James).

Writer-director Edgar Wright earns his paycheck with a production carefully choreographed down to the last gesture, and there’s an amiable and appealing spirit to most of the proceedings. Elgort invites strong sympathy for the orphaned, often silent Baby.

While it can be argued that Wright tries to have it both ways, ethically speaking, a reckoning does eventually arrive, and crime is ultimately punished. Baby and Debora’s relationship, moreover, remains chaste, with nothing more than kisses being exchanged.

Yet, as things begin to wind up, Wright aims for shock value by having some of his bad guys meet spectacular, brutal deaths. This considerably circumscribes the audience for which “Baby Driver” can be endorsed. Forewarned grownups, however, may enjoy taking it for a spin.

The film contains momentary but intense gory violence along with much gunplay, several uses of profanity and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R.

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

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‘Despicable Me 3’ thins out the reformed-villain series

June 29th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

Director Pierre Coffin’s animated comedy “Despicable Me 3” — the second direct follow-up to the 2010 original — turns out to be something of a disappointment, falling short when compared to its predecessors.

Gru, voiced by Steve Carell, appears in the  animated movie "Despicable Me 3." (CNS photo/Universal)

Gru, voiced by Steve Carell, appears in the animated movie “Despicable Me 3.” (CNS photo/Universal)

There is good news about the film, though, because its weak central plot is offset not only by amusing side stories but by strong values as well.

This time out, Gru (voice of Steve Carell), the once slightly wicked villain who turned thoroughgoing good guy over the course of the first two films, is up against an unlikely opponent. Balthazar Bratt, an ex-child actor whose 1980s TV show, “Evil Bratt,” was abruptly canceled when his voice began cracking and he developed acne, is out to wreak delayed vengeance by destroying Hollywood.

As Gru battles to thwart this plan, he also discovers that he has a brother named Dru (also voiced by Carell) that his unnamed mother (voice of Julie Andrews) never told him about. Predictably, the siblings quickly bond, though Dru tries to convince Gru to return to the dark side, citing their father’s career as a criminal as precedent for a family tradition.

Along with the newfound brothers’ mutual affection, clan closeness is also celebrated through scenes of Gru’s interaction with his supportive wife and crime-fighting partner, Lucy (voiced by Kristen Wiig), and their shared nurturing of their trio of adopted daughters, Margo (voice of Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (voice of Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Nev Scharrel).

Jokes riffing on Reagan-era fads and fashions, shoulder pads and the like, generally fall flat. But Agnes’ determination to find and take in a live unicorn, and Gru’s reluctance to tell her the truth about her favorite creatures, are endearing. So too is her bedtime prayer on the subject.

Additionally, the pixilated minions (voiced by director Pierre Coffin) who once carried out Gru’s bidding, and who featured in their own 2015 film, are on hand to get things back on track.

The references to puberty involved in Bratt’s show biz downfall might provoke some uncomfortable questions from little kids. Beyond that, Gru winds up in an embarrassing state of undress at one point and there’s some bathroom and body-parts humor.

Since there’s also some danger portrayed along the way, parents of the smallest, most easily scared tykes may not find this a good cinematic choice. For everyone else, it makes acceptable if not outstanding summer entertainment.

The film contains characters in peril, brief partial nudity played for laughs, mild scatological and anatomical humor and a couple of vaguely crass slang terms. 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.

      – – –

      Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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Adults may enjoy taking ‘Baby Driver’ for a spin

By

Catholic News Service

Stylish and energetic, the high-octane crime drama “Baby Driver” blends pop music, dizzying car chases and some dark humor to impressive effect.

While the film’s basic values are sound, however, late plot developments involve a quantity of bloodletting that will seem excessive to many moviegoers.

Ansel Elgort and Lily James star in a scene from the movie "Baby Driver." The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling.  The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted.

Ansel Elgort and Lily James star in a scene from the movie “Baby Driver.” The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. 

Ansel Elgort plays the title character, who prefers the moniker Baby to his real name. An otherwise decent young man, Baby is being forced to serve as the getaway driver in a series of bank robberies to pay off a debt he incurred to callous mobster Doc (Kevin Spacey).

This brings him into contact and collaboration with a series of lowlifes, including Wall Street executive-turned-thief Buddy (Jon Hamm), Buddy’s moll Darling (Eiza Gonzalez) and aptly nicknamed psychopath Bats (Jamie Foxx). The better part of Baby’s nature, meanwhile, is expressed in the care he gives his deaf and ailing foster father, Joe (CJ Jones), and in his romance with sprightly diner waitress Debora (Lily James).

Writer-director Edgar Wright earns his paycheck with a production carefully choreographed down to the last gesture, and there’s an amiable and appealing spirit to most of the proceedings. Elgort invites strong sympathy for the orphaned, often silent Baby.

While it can be argued that Wright tries to have it both ways, ethically speaking, a reckoning does eventually arrive, and crime is ultimately punished. Baby and Debora’s relationship, moreover, remains chaste, with nothing more than kisses being exchanged.

Yet, as things begin to wind up, Wright aims for shock value by having some of his bad guys meet spectacular, brutal deaths. This considerably circumscribes the audience for which “Baby Driver” can be endorsed. Forewarned grownups, however, may enjoy taking it for a spin.

The film contains momentary but intense gory violence along with much gunplay, several uses of profanity and frequent rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R.

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

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Long, loud and dumb: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’

June 26th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

Grown-ups who yearn to connect with their inner 11-year-old boy are given a two-and-a-half-hour window of opportunity to do so in “Transformers: The Last Knight.”

As for the literal preteens who might somehow enjoy this long, loud and dumb production, however, a steady stream of swearing and some muddled supernatural motifs make it inappropriate for them.

Samuel Parker, Isabela Moner, Benjamin Flores Jr., Juliocesar Chavez and Daniel Iturriaga star in a scene from the movie "Transformers: The Last Knight." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13. (CNS photo/Paramount)

Samuel Parker, Isabela Moner, Benjamin Flores Jr., Juliocesar Chavez and Daniel Iturriaga star in a scene from the movie “Transformers: The Last Knight.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13. (CNS photo/Paramount)

The fifth franchise entry for a series based on a line of Hasbro toys, and dating back to 2007’s “Transformers,” director Michael Bay’s ponderous sci-fi action flick, like its immediate predecessor, centers on small-time inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg).

Unlike most humans, Cade distinguishes between the good shape-shifting robots of the title, represented most prominently by Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen), and their evil counterparts. For those keeping score, the former group are called Autobots, the latter Decepticons.

This time out, Cade is scrambling to save Earth from being destroyed in a collision with the automatons’ home planet, Cybertron. It seems that Quintessa (Gemma Chan), the evil sorceress who created the Transformers, has a scheme to revive their dying orb by desolating ours. She manages to coerce Optimus into switching sides and abetting her based on the rather unanswerable argument that she is his god.

Along with that little nonscriptural nugget, the sinkhole of a plot drags in prehistory, via a set of Dinobots allied with the Autobots, King Arthur (Liam Garrigan), the biblical apocalypse and Viviane Wembly (Laura Haddock), an English professor in present-day Oxford who becomes Cade’s antipathy-at-first-sight love interest. Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins), a loopy historian, explains all these connections in detail but unconvincingly.

As boredom sets in, viewers may take to counting the number of times Cullen pompously intones “I am Optimus Prime …” Once is too often.

The film contains occult themes, much harsh but mostly bloodless combat violence, at least one use of profanity and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III, adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13.

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

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‘All Eyez on Me’ insightful but offensive

June 19th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

Radical politics and the wayward values of hip-hop culture take “All Eyez on Me,” a sometimes intense but overlong and rarely insightful biography of rapper Tupac Shakur (Demetrius Shipp Jr.), off course.

Demetrius Shipp Jr. and Kat Graham star in a scene from the movie "All Eyez on Me." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive.  (CNS photo/Codeblack Films)

Demetrius Shipp Jr. and Kat Graham star in a scene from the movie “All Eyez on Me.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. (CNS photo/Codeblack Films)

Add to these elements a script so laden with obscenities that hardly a sentence of dialogue passes without a visit to the verbal gutter, and the film becomes endorsable for none.

Born into a family of Black Panther activists, Danai Gurira turns in a powerful performance as his mother, Afeni, the future singer and actor confronts the challenges of an inner-city childhood before gaining stardom. Afeni trains him to react to these circumstances partly by educating himself (he eventually becomes a Shakespeare aficionado) but also, more troublingly, through a revolutionary attitude apparently accepting of violence.

Beginning with these early scenes, the script, written by Jeremy Haft, Eddie Gonzalez and Steven Bagatourian, shows a lack of balance both in its wholesale sympathy for the Panthers and in its entirely negative portrayal of the police. It later depicts former Vice President Dan Quayle as a villain and a dunce for questioning the anti-law enforcement tenor of some of Shakur’s lyrics.

Structured around an interview with a fictional, and unnamed, journalist (Hill Harper) during a real stint in prison, the retrospective takes in Shakur’s lifelong friendship with Jada Pinkett (Kat Graham), his partnership with rage-prone producer Suge Knight (Dominic Santana) and his romance with Quincy Jones’ daughter, Kidada (Annie Ilonzeh).

Before achieving a more or less stable relationship with Kidada, albeit one that involves living together before marriage, Shakur is shown partaking in the decadent lifestyle often associated with celebrity. This includes group and casual sex as well as deviant acts. Although a minor character calls Shakur out on this behavior, overall, the movie’s tone is one of implicit acceptance.

Where narcotics are concerned, “All Eyez” adopts an ambivalent outlook. While Afeni struggles with addiction and Shakur himself consistently refuses hard drugs, smoking marijuana is presented as essentially harmless.

Rampant materialism, exemplified by bling jewelry and private jets, also plays a role in setting director Benny Boom’s dramatization at odds with faith-based values. While viewers will hardly begrudge the once impoverished Shakur the financial success he earned, the need to wear more than one gold Rolex watch at a time can be questioned.

In fact, rivalry for expensive trinkets may have played a role in the tragic end of Shakur’s story, his still unsolved murder on the streets of Las Vegas 21 years ago. As a postscript to the picture points out, Shakur’s brief life, he died aged 25, was at least as much marked by creativity as by controversy. But if there are lessons to be learned from it, they are not to be found in “All Eyez on Me.”

The film contains some violence and gore, strong sexual content, including aberrant behavior, cohabitation and rear and upper female nudity, drug use, about a dozen profanities and relentless rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O, morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R.

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

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‘Rough Night’ is dead on arrival

June 15th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

“Weekend at Bernie’s” meets “Bridesmaids” in the raunchy comedy “Rough Night.” The result is pure dreck.

Political candidate and bride-to-be Jess Thayer (Scarlett Johansson) joins her four best friends — Aussie ditz Pippa (Kate McKinnon), overeager misfit Alice (Jillian Bell), social justice warrior Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and self-satisfied rich lady Blair (Zoe Kravitz) — for a wild bachelorette weekend in Miami.

Zoe Kravitz, Jillian Bell, Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, and Illana Grazer star in a scene from the movie "Rough Night." The Catholic News Service classification is O -- morally offensive. .(CNS photo/Sony)

Zoe Kravitz, Jillian Bell, Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, and Illana Grazer star in a scene from the movie “Rough Night.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. .(CNS photo/Sony)

After doing shots and snorting cocaine, they summon a stripper (Ryan Cooper) to the house they’ve been loaned. But the fun comes to a screeching halt when Alice, who could afford to go on a diet, accidentally kills burlesque boy by impulsively jumping into his lap, overturning his chair and smashing the back of his head into the corner of a stone hearth.

As the quintet scrambles to hide the evidence, fearing, for barely tenable reasons, that the police will not believe their story, director and co-writer Lucia Aniello’s film runs the gamut of smut. Early on, the script (on which Aniello collaborated with Paul W. Downs, who also plays Jess’ nice-guy fiance, Peter) winsomely tips us off to the fact that, back in college, Frankie and Blair were lovers.

Later the screenplay introduces us to Lea and Pietro (Demi Moore and Ty Burrell), the randy swingers who live next door. Plot developments find Blair forced into an encounter with this duo while Peter, who knows that Jess is in some kind of trouble, dons diapers and chugs Red Bull for a marathon drive to Florida to save the day.

Along the way to the supposedly friendship-affirming conclusion, such inherently hilarious subjects as contraception, venereal disease and personal hygiene are milked for laughs. And, as Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman discovered all those years ago in the first movie referred to above, there’s really no sight gag funnier than propping up a corpse.

The film contains strong sexual content, including aberrant behavior, nudity and a benign view of homosexual acts, cohabitation, drug use, some gory images, constant vulgar humor, several uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O, morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R, restricted

 

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

 

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‘The Lovers’ a ‘lyrical’ look at infidelity but not its damage

By

Catholic News Service

To the extent that a thoughtful drama about marital infidelity can be considered lyrical, “The Lovers” achieves that. Writer-director Azazel Jacobs carefully structures his plot to minimize any gaping holes in logic. But he also downplays the extensive collateral damage adultery inflicts.

Debra Winger and Tracy Letts star in a scene from the movie "The Lovers." The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling.  (CNS photo/A24)

Debra Winger and Tracy Letts star in a scene from the movie “The Lovers.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/A24)

Perhaps he wanted to avoid making anyone a villain. Certainly, no one is ever shown to be really at fault. Lacking a steady moral compass, his characters are buffeted by life’s unpredictability.

The story focuses on Michael (Tracy Letts) and Mary (Debra Winger), two doughy, respectable, middle-age empty-nesters, their son Joel (Tyler Ross) is away at college.

Their marriage has, for reasons not explained, sputtered out. Both have taken on lovers.

They seem to be mutually aware of the cheating, but they’re exceedingly polite to each other and still share the same bed. The lethargy that led to their love’s demise, as well as bland domestic rituals, prevent them from actually splitting.

Mary, her mouth a rictus of pain and confusion, has taken up with handsome, younger Robert (Aidan Gillen). Michael, whose emotional outlet usually consists of giggling, is carrying on with Lucy (Melora Walters), an emotionally fragile ballet teacher.

Jacobs keeps his story sympathetic and free of tawdriness by showing that Mary and Michael, numb in their own lives, aren’t particularly good at adultery, either. Thus they find many ways to be both physically and emotionally unavailable to their paramours.

Why Robert and Lucy regard these two as good catches is mysterious. But eventually they both deliver ultimatums. Whatever goes on, it’s never glamorous.

That, too, is one of Jacobs’ points. Love and physical attraction often make no sense, and eventually Michael and Mary find, to their considerable surprise, that their spark has returned. So, in a series of farcical sequences, they end up “cheating” on their lovers.

This lurches on for a spell until a visit from Joel and his girlfriend, Erin (Jessica Sula), sets into motion events which reveal the hollowness of the charade.

The film contains an adultery theme, fleeting scenes of marital sexual activity, some of it potentially aberrant, and much profane and rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is L, limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R.

 

Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

 

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A third new paint job for ‘Cars 3’

June 14th, 2017 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

Fasten your seatbelts and start your engines for a wild (and often ear-splitting) ride in “Cars 3,” the latest installment of the family-friendly animated franchise.

Six years after the initial sequel and 11 since the series began with “Cars,” the anthropomorphic autos are back with a vengeance. Director Brian Fee ramps up the racing action (and the roar of the engines) while introducing a fleet of new characters sure to please young viewers, not to mention toy manufacturers.

This is a scene from the movie "Cars 3." The Catholic News Service classification is A-I, general patronage.  (CNS /Disney)

This is a scene from the movie “Cars 3.” The Catholic News Service classification is A-I, general patronage. (CNS /Disney)

Happily, there’s much more than the dizzying blur of NASCAR-like action. Screenwriters Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson and Mike Rich inject a nice amount of heart and pathos into the comedic plot, and add winning messages about second chances and the value of mentoring.

The years have been kind to ace racer Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson). He’s still at the top of his game. But just over his shoulder is a new generation of faster vehicles, like the brash rookie Jackson Storm (voice of Armie Hammer).

“Enjoy your retirement,” Jackson tells Lightning as he whizzes past.

In a flash, Lightning is sidelined by an accident. Disillusioned and depressed, he retreats to his adopted home of Radiator Springs. There he draws on the support of his loyal tow-truck sidekick, Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy), and comely Porsche sweetheart, Sally (voice of Bonnie Hunt).

Sally knows Lightning must look to the future. “Don’t fear failure,” she insists. “Take a chance. Try something new.”

A spiffy fresh paint job by Ramone (voice of Cheech Marin) helps. “It’s so beautiful,” Ramone says of his own work, “it’s like the Sistine Chapel!”

With his spirits buoyed, Lightning heads to the training center run by his sponsor, Rust-Eze, and its new owner, the “businesscar” Sterling (voice of Nathan Fillion). His eager young coach, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), is thrilled with her new, if elderly, charge.

“You’re my senior project!” she gushes.

As the bond between veteran racer and rookie wannabe grows, Lightning recalls the wisdom of his dearly departed mentor, Doc Hudson (voice of Paul Newman). On a whim, he takes Cruz on a road trip to find Doc’s original trainer, a grizzled ’51 Ford named Smokey (voice of Chris Cooper), to recapture some of the old magic.

“You’ll never be the racer you once were,” Smokey intones. “You can’t turn back the clock, kid, but you can wind it up again.”

“Cars 3” is full of surprises, and there’s a nice twist in store well before the finish line.

Preceding “Cars 3” is a short film entitled “Lou.” It’s a charming fable about a playground bully who learns the error of his ways thanks to some enchanted objects in his school’s lost-and-found box.

The film contains a brief, highly stylized crash scene. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I, general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G.

 

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