The Family Filmgoer
Several terrific dance numbers make this sequel, with its weak plot, fun for teenage dance freaks
“STEP UP REVOLUTION,” Rated PG-13 — From the first shot of young women’s derrieres in string bikinis (in 3-D, too), it’s clear that “Step Up Revolution” will push the PG-13 envelope in terms of sexuality in dress and dance. So the film is problematic for middle-schoolers whose parents worry about the hyper-sexualization of pop culture. For high-schoolers, and especially dance fans among them, the movie includes terrific dance numbers that almost — but not quite — make up for the pallid plot. This fourth installment in the “Step Up” series (“Step Up,” 2006; “Step Up 2: The Streets,” 2008; “Step Up 3D,” 2010 — all PG-13s), about street dancers who perform outside the established arts world, takes place in Miami. Sean (Ryan Guzman) and his pal Eddy (Misha Gabriel) have founded The Mob, a flash-mob dance group that mixes sheer athleticism with break-dancing and more. We first see them stop traffic and perform atop vintage cars. They start to get YouTube notoriety. If they can do a video that attracts 10 million hits, they’ll win a $100,000 prize. Sean waits tables at a hotel, now owned by a big developer (Peter Gallagher) whose daughter Emily (Kathryn McCormick) is a trained dancer who yearns to audition for a major troupe. Emily and Sean meet, dance, fall in love, and she joins The Mob incognito. When her dad announces plans to raze the old neighborhood where Sean and his friends live, Emily helps them do protest dances. There are stunning flash-mob numbers (perhaps a tad digitally enhanced) in an art museum, city hall and on a wharf, but the “Revolution” kinda fizzles, storywise.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The choreography, while flashy and fun, involves a lot of heavily sexual moves. However, the actual plot treads lightly on such things, with a little mild kissing and an implied night spent cuddling on a motorboat. Characters drink wine and beer. The script includes rare mild profanity and crude language.
Profane and riotous, this adult comedy about four dopes who form a neighborhood watch is encumbered by recent tragic events
“THE WATCH,” Rated R — Darkly hilarious and too profane, full of crass sexual language and sci-fi gore for under-17s, “The Watch” unintentionally harkens back to the Trayvon Martin case in Florida and the recent attack at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. If older teens and college-age kids can put those real-life tragedies out-of-mind, “The Watch” will prove a droll, anarchic hoot. Evan (Ben Stiller) loves his town and has no yen for excitement, though his wife (Rosemary DeWitt) wouldn’t mind some. He manages the local Costco store. When his nighttime security guard (Joe Nunez) is found not only murdered, but minus his skin (not shown on camera, though later victims are shown) and in a pool of green slime, the town’s doofus cop (Will Forte) suspects Evan. Evan, meanwhile, recruits a neighborhood watch to solve the crime. His cohorts are Bob (Vince Vaughn), a nice-guy motormouth obsessed with keeping his teen daughter (Erin Moriarty) a virgin; Franklin (Jonah Hill), a police-academy reject who lives with his mom and has an arsenal under his bed (not funny at the moment); and Jamarcus (British comic Richard Ayoade), a bespectacled oddball eager for friends. All they do is drink beer at first, not taking Evan seriously, but eventually they encounter the aliens and must defeat the coming invasion.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The dialogue bristles with profanity and crude, graphic sexual slang. A secondary character has an orgy in his basement, with graphically implied sexual situations and toplessness. There is also a teenage make-out scene in which the girl has to fight the boy off. Evan and his wife discuss having sex so she can get pregnant. The alien invaders are humanoid/lizard hybrids with razor teeth. They impale victims on pincerlike arms. The dead are all minus their innards and skin. The final battle involves gunfire and explosions.
Lonely novelist invents a character who becomes his flesh-and-blood girlfriend in this smart rom-com
“RUBY SPARKS,” Rated R, LIMITED RELEASE — Rated R largely for language, “Ruby Sparks” is the sort of romantic comedy that might charm teens 16 and older who don’t fall for the crass films that pass for Hollywood rom-coms these days. It was made by the team (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris) who co-directed “Little Miss Sunshine” (R, 2006), so you know it’s just tad off-center. Perhaps, if they read about the film, older high-schoolers will discover George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion,” or the 1950s Broadway musical “My Fair Lady” (also a great 1964 film) based on it, or the Greek myth that undergirds those stories and this one, too. Calvin (Paul Dano) is a 30-ish writer who had a hugely successful first novel, but has had writer’s block ever since. Plus, his girlfriend left him. Lonely and anti-social, he finally gets an idea and starts clicking away on his vintage typewriter about a pixie-ish young woman named Ruby Sparks. Suddenly, there she is in the flesh (played by Zoe Kazan, who wrote the screenplay), in his home, as if she’s been his live-in girlfriend for ages. Calvin figures he’s gone insane at first, but gradually he accepts the reality of Ruby after he realizes that other people can see her, too, including his brother (Chris Messina). For a while he’s happy, but Calvin is a controlling guy and Ruby, fictional or not, starts to chafe under his rules and regs. Then Calvin faces the moral question of whether to rewrite her to be more compliant.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Characters use very strong profanity and crude sexual language. They also drink, smoke pot and make other verbal drug references.