“Peeples” (PG-13): A little too full of sexual humor for middle schoolers, “Peeples” takes a sitcom look at family dynamics – a la the raunchier sitcoms that run in late prime time after the kiddies are asleep.
This movie goes for the cheap, predictable laugh, but a cast of A-list comedic actors makes it an entertaining enough escape that many high schoolers will buy into it. Craig Robinson (TV’s “The Office”) stars as Wade Walker, a gifted but as yet uncredentialed social worker and child psychologist who supports himself performing at kids’ parties and giving music classes at grade schools. We meet him teaching little ones a toilet-humor song about expressing yourself with words, titled “Speak It (Don’t Leak It!).”
Wade’s live-in girlfriend Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington of TV’s “Scandal”) adores him, but doesn’t feel ready to bring him to a holiday weekend at her family’s palatial Sag Harbor waterside compound. Her father Virgil (David Alan Grier), a scowling federal judge, never likes her boyfriends. Wade shows up anyway and instantly makes a bad impression, despite the friendliness of Grace’s mom (S. Epatha Merkerson), teenage brother (Tyler James Williams) and adult sister (Kali Hawk). Wade competes with Virgil for alpha status, learns Peeples’ family secrets, and finally wins them over.
Issues that weave comedically throughout the film include substance abuse and alcoholism, breast enlargement, nudism at the beach, gay adult children afraid to come out to their parents, and teenagers acting out against a privileged upbringing by stealing and pretending to be streetwise. The dialogue includes frequent sexual innuendo and mild sexual slang. Wade does suggestive dance moves. A white character makes a stereotyped, mildly racist remark.
“The Great Gatsby” (PG-13): Teens, if they take the plunge and let this overproduced but effective storytelling machine wash over them, will be surprised how the excesses of the Jazz Age, circa 1922, echo the excesses of today. And fear not, adult fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s revered novel. Director Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge!,” PG-13, 2001; “Romeo + Juliet,” PG-13, 1996), known for his over-the-top style, gives a bit of the “Moulin Rouge!” treatment to “The Great Gatsby,” but never buries the story.
Luhrmann’s stellar international cast may speak in unplaceable accents, but they get the emotions right, amid lavish decor, and with a soundtrack that mixes 1920s jazz with new works by Jay-Z and other Billboard toppers.
All the characters drink and smoke a lot. Bedroom scenes never show anything more explicit than kissing and cuddling on the sheets and never with any nudity. A character harbors viciously racist and ignorant conspiracy theories. He also has a mistress. A violent hit-and-run fatality takes place near the end of the film and is replayed in flashback and slow-motion.
“Iron Man 3” (PG-13): Thunderous explosions, dizzying falls and much destruction of property figure in this third installment of the – so far – consistently fun films based on the comic book tales of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the rich-as-Midas inventor of the Iron Man robotic warrior suit. Teens will savor the drollery and the mayhem.
Villains now looking to destroy Stark – and the U.S. government – are a scientist gone power mad, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), and his apparent boss, the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), a creepy terrorist with a ponytail and a penchant for showy TV threats.
After his near-death experiences in Iron Man 2 (PG-13, 2010), Stark, with his glowing mini-reactor for a heart, has trouble sleeping.
Though in a happy romance with his corporate whiz Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), he remains frustrated that the military (Don Cheadle as Col. James Rhodes) won’t let him help get the Mandarin, who has already killed many innocents. Scientist Killian can transform his thugs into indestructible fighters. When injured, their bodies turn molten, then regenerate.
The action is big and bold in 3-D, but the best fun emerges from little smart-alecky scenes between Stark and a kid (Ty Simpkins) whom he befriends after crash-landing near a small town.
Most of the mayhem, from explosions to fistfights, is thunderous but not graphic. Staffers are sucked out of a damaged Air Force One and seem to be falling to their deaths. A key character falls into a raging fire. Another chugs a lot of beer. There is very little profanity. Tony Stark engages in mildly naughty verbal sexual innuendo. A flashback implies he spends the night with a fellow scientist, Maya (Rebecca Hall).