This weekend's family filmgoer movie reviews
'Interstellar,' 'Big Hero 6,' 'The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,' and 'Laggies '
MIAMI – Big Hero 6 (PG). Kids 7 and older will get a charge out of this laugh-out-loud animated 3-D tale — unless robots creep them out. A dominant theme about loss of loved ones and overcoming grief is the reason for the 7-and-older suggestion, but some kids younger than 7 will handle the film just fine. "Big Hero 6" takes place in the metropolis of San Fransokyo. Fourteen-year-old orphan Hiro is a tech genius. Instead of starting college early, he lazes about, entering his inventions in robot fights on which people bet cash. His big brother Tadashi, also a brilliant inventor, takes Hiro to the robotics lab at the university and introduces him to his comically nerdy colleagues. Hiro invents a tiny microbot, which he can control with his mind, and wins a scholarship. A tragic fire puts Tadashi out of the picture and Hiro falls into a depression. His lone companion is his brother's invention, Baymax, a benign nurse robot who looks like a huge inflatable snowman and who administers big doses of humor and heart. When Hiro learns that Tadashi's death was not an accident, he refines the lab nerds' and Baymax's specialties into techie super powers to go after the villain. (108 minutes)
THE BOTTOM LINE: Kids 7 and older won't be fazed by the high-tech battle scenes, with characters risking their lives flying into multi-dimensional portals or trying to fight off the villain and his swarming microbots. What may catch kids' hearts is the film's ongoing theme about loss, which applies to Hiro losing his brother, to the prospective loss of Baymax and to the villain's vengeful rage about the loss of a child.
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (PG). Visually stunning and narratively complex, this animated fable from Japan will appeal more to kids 8 and older who like to make art and who gravitate to unusual tales. "The Tale of the Princess Kaguya" doesn't move at the speed of computer-animated Hollywood hits or have their sort of humor. Its charming crickets, birds and landscapes frame a bittersweet story. Created by Isao Takahata of Studio Ghibli, which has given us such hand-drawn animation masterpieces as "Spirited Away," this film retells "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter," about a poor man who discovers a magical baby girl inside a bamboo stalk. He believes she is a princess, sent as a blessing. The old man and his wife move with their new child to the city. A nobleman bestows on "L'il Bamboo" a grand new name, Kaguya. She grows up magically fast and is trained to act like a princess. Yet Kaguya rejects noble suitors and pines for the boy and the life she left behind. The secrets of her origin, once revealed, lead to a poignant finale. There are two versions of the film: one in Japanese with subtitles and the other dubbed in English. (137 minutes)
THE BOTTOM LINE: The princess's adoptive mother magically has milk in her breasts and exposes one to feed the baby. The princess threatens to kill herself to avoid living in the ruler's court.
Interstellar. A gorgeously trippy and often profound sci-fi adventure, "Interstellar" will appeal to teens who love science fiction, as well as those who want a story with heart. This film by Christopher Nolan, never dull at close to three hours, has both. The intensity of it all could make "Interstellar" a bit too much for some middle-schoolers and tweens, especially on an Imax screen. It is the near future, and Earth has exhausted its resources. Dust bowls and blighted crops indicate that humanity won't survive much longer. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) farms corn but is a former astronaut, now a widower with two kids. He and his science-minded little girl notice a gravitational anomaly in their house. They glean coordinates from it, leading them to a secret NASA base. Cooper is recruited on the spot to pilot a ship through a space-time wrinkle detected near Saturn. The idea is to find a new habitable planet for humanity. (169 minutes)
THE BOTTOM LINE: The depictions of bone-jostling space-time travel are very jarring, especially on Imax screens. Other accidents and events, while not at all bloody, are startling and can make you want to duck. The dialogue is generally non-profane, except for a rare use of the F-word and some barnyard profanity.
Laggies. This offbeat comedy might appeal to high-schoolers 15 and older if they're already perplexed by the grown-up choices they'll have to make for themselves in a few years. Keira Knightley plays Megan, a young woman nearing 30 who has yet to decide what to do with her life. She procrastinates and "floats," despite her graduate degree and her dad and boyfriend urging her to move forward. When her boyfriend proposes, Megan freaks out and runs off. Catching her breath at a convenience store, she agrees to buy liquor for an underage teen, Annika, and her pals. Later she crashes at Annika's house. Annika's single dad finds this adult-teen friendship odd but innocent, and lets Megan stay. Romance and complications ensue. (99 minutes)
THE BOTTOM LINE: While it's a relatively mild R, "Laggies" includes several F-words and a not-quite explicit sexual situation that involves crude sexual slang. Underage characters drink.
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