Aug. 26 film picks

Whitney Houston, in her last film role, in “Sparkle.’’
Whitney Houston, in her last film role, in “Sparkle.’’ –Alicia Gbur/TriStar Pictures

Ages 10 and older

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (104 min., PG) — After years of trying to have a baby, a couple writes down all the wonderful traits a child of theirs might have had, and buries the scraps of paper in a box in their yard. Soon a smiling, muddy little boy appears in their home. He’s not a normal boy, and the townsfolk react narrow-mindedly at first. By the end, the film becomes a testament to adoption. There are jokes about flatulence. The school bullies are mean but not vicious.

ParaNorman (93 min., PG) — A little too spooky for kids under 10 unless parents determine they can handle it, “ParaNorman’’ tells a corker of a story about an oddball 11-year-old who sees and talks to ghosts. Made with stop-motion animation, the film has a surreal picture-book look. Kids under 10 might quail at the zombies and ghosts, exposed brains and decomposing corpses, though they’re portrayed with whimsical humor, not realism. Similar to “The Nightmare Before Christmas’’ (PG, 1993) or “Corpse Bride’’ (PG, 2005).


The middle ground

The Bourne Legacy (134 min., PG-13) — Jeremy Renner isn’t named Bourne, but like Matt Damon’s character in the three previous Bourne movies, he’s a CIA assassin on the run. The mayhem features drone attacks, explosions, gun battles, and bone-cracking hand-to-hand combat, as well as occasional midrange profanity. A man’s multiple murder of his co-workers in a pharmaceutical lab is very unsettling.

Sparkle (116 min., PG-13) — A remake of the 1976 film (rated PG), this show-business saga about a Supremes-like girl group has been moved to 1960s Detroit. The mature themes deal with spousal abuse and drug use, but in fairly understated fashion. A climactic moment involves an accidental homicide, which is not highly graphic. Some choreography is sexually suggestive. The dialogue features rare profanity.


2 Days in New York (96 min., R) — Writer-director Julie Delpy has moved her character Marion from “2 Days in Paris’’ (R, 2007) to New York, where she lives with her new boyfriend (Chris Rock) and their kids. Her family comes to visit. The dialogue features strong profanity, and characters engage in sexual situations that aren’t visually explicit but include noises or discussion of sex acts. Characters smoke pot. There is nudity.

Celeste and Jesse Forever (91 min., R) — A divorced couple (Rashida Jones, who co-wrote the script, and Andy Samberg) try to get beyond their divorce. The script features strong profanity and sexual language, a graphic sexual situation and other more understated ones. Characters use marijuana. A subplot involves an out-of-wedlock pregnancy.


Cosmopolis (109 min., R) Robert Pattinson is a billionaire in a stretch limo trying to get across a very congested Manhattan. David Croneneberg directed. In addition to explicitly mimed sexual situations and nudity, the film includes graphic gun violence and stabbings. Characters use some profanity.

The Expendables 2 (102 min., R) Those ’80s action heroes ride, or limp, again. There are multiple gun battles and explosions, as well as martial-arts combat and fights, with and without brass knuckles and chains. The blood flies as bullets hit and knives sink in, but the gore really isn’t graphic for an R-rated film.

Hit & Run (100 min., R) Part road picture, part raunchfest, part romantic comedy. When Annie (Kristen Bell) has the chance of a great job in LA, her live-in boyfriend, Charlie (Dax Shepard, who wrote and codirected) agrees to go — despite the fact he’s hiding out in witness protection from some baddies there (who include Bradley Cooper). The script includes strong profanity, crudely explicit sexual language, homophobic slurs, and elderly nudity. The mayhem includes crazy car chases, a couple of bloody fist fights, and gunplay.

Ruby Sparks (104 min., R) — The rating for this update of the classic Pygmalion tale is mostly the result of language. Blocked writer Paul Dano imagines a character (Zoe Kazan) whom he falls in love with when she comes to life. Characters use very strong profanity and crude sexual language. They also smoke pot and make other verbal drug references. One scene where Dano very overtly manipulates Kazan’s feelings might disturb younger viewers.




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