“Walking With Dinosaurs” (PG): Full of humor, adventure and information, this animated 3-D dinosaur adventure will entertain kids 8 and older very well. Some of the dangers in the story make “Walking With Dinosaurs” a bit too much for under-8s, though seeing it in 2-D could tame it a bit. Our dinosaur hero and his herd face fires, predators, violent rivalries, and the loss of parents. These are not too graphically rendered, but still not for kids under 8.
The film starts with a present-day human prologue: A boy (Charlie Rowe) and girl (Angourie Rice) drive through the wilds of Alaska with their uncle (Karl Urban), a paleontologist in search of dinosaur bones. The boy isn’t interested and stays near the truck.
Then a talking bird (voice of John Leguizamo) flies up and starts spinning a dinosaur tale from 70 million years ago. The young dinosaur hero he speaks of is Patchi (voice of Justin Long), a perky Pachyrhinosaurus. The runt of his litter, Patchi narrowly escapes being eaten by a huge omnivore and sustains a permanent hole in the bony outcropping on his head. His big brother Scowler (Skyler Stone) teases and bullies him, but he’s befriended by Alex (Leguizamo again), a colorful bird who is our narrator.
The humor includes dinosaur poop, vomit and flatulence jokes, not surprisingly. The forest fire, predatory attacks and a scene in which some of the herd fall through a frozen lake, are scary. Most of this is more implied than graphic, but in 3-D it’s still intense. The male dinosaurs have nonlethal head-butting contests.
“Saving Mr. Banks” (PG-13): It’s likely that adults more than teens will be drawn to this enlightening and effervescent behind-the-scenes saga about the making of Disney’s 1964 “Mary Poppins.” However, teens who like musicals and classic films may, too, be fascinated and charmed by “Saving Mr. Banks.”
It’s no secret that the creator of the “Mary Poppins” books, P.L. Travers (a terrific and scary Emma Thompson), was reluctant to let Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) adapt her novels, fearful he’d sugarcoat everything and ruin it.
The film opens at Travers’ London home, where she learns that she’s broke and the only way out is to sell Disney the rights. She travels to Hollywood to meet with him and ostensibly “work” with the songwriting brothers, Robert (B.J. Novak) and Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman), and scriptwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford). Icy and critical to the point of cruelty, Travers drives them all crazy.
Director John Lee Hancock and screenwriters Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith ingeniously weave in flashbacks – overuse them a bit, actually – to show Travers as a child in rural Australia. We learn that she watched her beloved father Travers Goff (Colin Farrell) die slowly from drink and tuberculosis. Later she moved to London and reinvented herself as P.L. Travers, but never got over that tragedy. Big emotions and joy, even in a film based on her children’s books, felt wrong to her. While it’s strong throughout, this movie just soars in the rehearsal room scenes.
The flashbacks show Travers as a little girl, watching her father in embarrassing bouts of public drunkenness, and coughing up blood. Walt Disney and others chain-smoke and engage in social drinking. The script contains rare mild profanity.
“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” (PG-13): Even though high schoolers don’t remember the advent of national cable news, circa 1980, this sequel (to “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” PG-13, 2004) will give them a good laugh, because the premise still works. Note: This comedy is too raunchy for middle schoolers without parental OK.
Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his now-wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are co-anchoring weekend news in New York when their boss (Harrison Ford) fires Ron and makes Veronica a weeknight anchor. This wrecks their marriage and estranges the dumb, self-absorbed Ron from their son. Just when all seems lost, an exec from a budding cable news channel, “GNN,” invites Ron to get his old team together for a national gig – the 2 a.m. news. Competing with the new network’s prime-time anchor (James Marsden) for ratings, Ron and his guys – smarmy reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), delusional weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), and idiot sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner) – resort to anything.
The script is peppered with midrange profanity and one or two F-words, plus crass verbal sexual innuendo, including STD jokes. Burgundy is often drunk and smokes crack on the air as a feature story. There are steamy but nongraphic sexual situations. Other comedy features an attempted suicide and jokes about blindness. Sportscaster Champ Kind won’t serve African-Americans, Jews or Catholics in his restaurant. The battle scene finale involves guns, axes, crossbows and aerial strafing.