By Chris Kavan - 09/26/18 at 09:20 AM CT
This week brings us one of the more packed updates in recent MPAA Ratings memory. Yet for all the quantity, the amount of films worth mentioning is still woefully low. Just three main entries this week - one a sequel to one of my personal favorite Pixar films (because I'm a video game nerd), a meetup between shady characters at a rundown hotel and an uplifting tale about a victim of a brutal crime who finds a unique way to cope and recover. All told, not a bad update, but considering the volume, I kind of wanted more. Oh well, onward and upward.
Pixar hardly ever gets things wrong, but picking a favorite from their library is a tough task. But in terms of personal favorites, Wreck It Ralph is right up there thanks to the great nods to the video game nerd in all of us. That is why I'm going to say the upcoming sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 is probably going to be the first animated film I have seen in theaters since, well, I think Minions (back in 2015). That's right, I'm a sucker for this kind of humor, one that hits close to home, and from the look of the previews, while it may not quite hold the nostalgia factor the original did, it more than makes up for it with what looks like a great premise and the inclusion of pretty much ever Disney princess, ever. The plot is simple, when an over-enthusiastic racer breaks the racing wheel on Sugar Rush, it threatens the glitch-tastic Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) and, with help of Ralph (John C. Reilly) and a newly-installed router, the duo head to the wild, wacky world of the internet in hopes of finding a replacement before her game gets shut down for good. In order to raise the cash, Vanellope trier her hand at a violent free-to-play racing game where Shank (Gal Gadot) is the queen. The film pokes fun at all things internet, from attention-grabbing ads, mobile games, social media and the like. As has been seen in several previews, it also brings together pretty much every Disney princess and they are voiced by the original voice actresses (where applicable) - including the likes of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel (as Anna and Elsa - Frozen), Jodi Benson (Ariel - Little Mermaid), Auli'i Cravalho (Moana), Kelly Macdonald (Merida - Brave), Ming-Na Wen (Mulan), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel - Tangled) and more. I mean, the sheer brilliance of bringing together this group, even if it's just for a short time, is a stroke of genius. Plus, Disney can poke a little fun at themselves in the process. Otherwise, most of the original cast is returning, including Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Ed O'Neill and Alan Tudyk (though he's voicing a different character) and joining the cast are Alfred Molina and Taraji P. Henson. All told, this just looks like a heckuva lot of fun. Rated Rated PG for some action and rude humor.
As true stories go, Hollywood loves a few different kinds: harrowing, crazy and life-changing. American Sniper, Rudy, The Blind Side, American Made - even this year's White Boy Rick, heroes and anti-heroes abound. That is why I'm happy that we're getting Steven Carell in the fantastic and wonderful Welcome to Marwen. Based on the true story of Mark Hogancamp (and the documentary Marwencol) - we follow a Hogancamp after a brutal attack leaves him in a coma with damage to his brain. In order to cope, he beings building a 1/16 scale model WWII era-town, dubbed "Marwencol" in his back year, populating it with dolls based on people he knows. This helps him recover, both in physical and psychological terms, but when his "art" is discovered, it also presents new challenges in his life. The film follows the story, but also uses a unique process that presents the characters in both regular and toy form - and it looks amazing. It's a gamble, but I think it will pay off as the emotional story is sure to capture the hearts and minds of the adult populace and it should play well with that crowd. Besides Carell, the film stars Merritt Wever, Gwendoline Christie, Eiza González, Diane Kruger, Leslie Mann, Janelle Monáe and Siobhan Williams. The film is also directed by Robert Zemeckis and looks to rival Forrest Gump in terms of emotional heft and feel-goodness. Rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence, some disturbing images, brief suggestive content, thematic material and language.
For those who want a bit more action and intrigue in their life, it's time to enjoy Bad Times at the El Royale. The setup is a classic - a group of seven strangers, each with something to hide, find themselves holed up at the same rundown hotel where one night could bring them redemption - if everything didn't fly off the rails. Our disparate group of individuals is made up of the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Offerman and Katharine Isabelle. And, oh yes, there will be blood. Now, the key to this kind of film is that the characters have to be interesting, but not too over-the-top crazy. The preview seem to point slightly towards the too-crazy category, but I'll forgive it a bit based on the cast. That being said, it's tough out there for smart action-type films, and Tarantino isn't directing this, so I'm not sure it's going to have the greatest reception (remember Free Fire? Yeah, neither does anyone else) but I will check it out some day. Rated R for Rated R for strong violence, language, some drug content and brief nudity.
Those are the big three for the week, but be sure to check out the very full MPAA Ratings Bulletin below:
Rated R for language throughout and some sexual references.
THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE
Rated R for violence, sexual content, graphic nudity and language.
BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE
Rated R for strong violence, language, some drug content and brief nudity.
THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS
Rated R for some strong violence.
Rated R for some sexual content, graphic nudity, a bloody violent image, and language.
Rated PG for thematic content including peril.
THE DEATH OF DICK LONG
Rated R for pervasive language, disturbing sexual material, and brief drug use.
Rated R for language throughout and crude sexual references.
ELLIOT: THE LITTLEST REINDEER
Rated PG for some suggestive and rude humor.
Rated R for some language.
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.
HAPPY AS LAZARRO
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief violence.
ISN'T IT ROMANTIC
Rated PG-13 for language, some sexual material, and a brief drug reference.
JANE AND EMMA
Rated PG for some thematic material.
THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER
Rated R for some language and nudity.
Rated R for sexual content/nudity, language throughout, some violence and drug use.
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive material.
Rated R for sequences of brutal war violence, some sexuality, language and brief nudity.
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2
Rated PG for some action and rude humor
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, some nudity, drug content, smoking and brief language.
WELCOME TO MARWEN
Rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence, some disturbing images, brief suggestive content, thematic material and language.