“The Nut Job” (PG): This animated 3-D film may be one that parents just have to suffer through, but it’s fine for kids 7 and older. Surly (voice of Will Arnett), a less common black squirrel, survives on his wits in the big city. He and his scruffy rat pal Buddy (Robert Tinkler) don’t cooperate with the organized park animals – squirrels, chipmunks, possums, gophers and others – led by Raccoon (Liam Neeson) and the silent pet cardinal on his shoulder. It’s going to be a hard winter, and Raccoon worries that they haven’t stored enough nuts. Andie (Katherine Heigl), a red squirrel, and Grayson (Brendan Fraser), a gray squirrel who fancies himself an action hero, check out a nut-seller’s wagon. They don’t realize that (a) the wagon is owned by gangsters planning a bank heist, and (b) Surly and Buddy also aim to rob it. The critters’ initial caper ends in chaos.
Next, Surly, Buddy, Andie and Grayson happen upon the actual storefront nut shop the gangsters are using as cover for a tunnel they’re digging into the bank. The animals dodge gunfire, mouse traps and the top gangster’s (Stephen Lang) pug dog, whom they befriend.
Kids may get briefly scared during non-injurious gunplay, a truck chase and a couple of explosions, one of which topples a bridge or dam. Animal characters are believed to have drowned, but they’re OK. One character says, “Get your head out of your tail!” Another exclaims, “Shut the front door,” which is a euphemism for a profane expression. Surly asks a scuzzy “city rat” with glowing yellow eyes whether its appearance denotes mange or bubonic plague. There are multiple flatulence gags.
“Ride Along” (PG-13): A manic, motormouth Kevin Hart co-stars with a deadpan Ice Cube in this less-than-original cop comedy. Despite the PG-13 rating, it’s too profane to recommend for middle schoolers, but OK for high schoolers.
Hart plays Ben, a school security guard in Atlanta. He wants to marry his live-in girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter), but her big brother James (Ice Cube), a police detective, disapproves. He thinks the diminutive Ben is a wuss and a loser. Ben, who also longs to be a cop, gets accepted by the police academy. James decides he can probably discourage Ben from becoming a cop if he just takes him on a “ride along” and makes police work look crazy-dangerous.
While James looks on, Ben gets into “situations” with a biker gang, a youth gang and a drunk guy in a farmers’ market. Things get serious after Ben unwittingly unearths “clues” regarding an elusive gun-running gangster for whom James and his partners Santiago (John Leguizamo) and Miggs (Bryan Callen) have been hunting for months. Ben gets to experience car chases, shootouts and bullet wounds for real.
The amount of profanity throughout the script is self-consciously excessive, as if they’re trying to seem like an R, but stay in the more-profitable PG-13 category. The dialogue features many, many uses of the S-word, the A-word and multiple variations upon both. Although it’s largely midrange profanity – with the F-word used out loud just once and cut off just before it’s used a second time – the film contains a lot of sexual innuendo and slang, some of it fairly graphic, though euphemistic. The fights and gunplay remain in the PG-13 range.
“Her” (R): Filmmaker Spike Jonze has created a memorable fable, imagining a near-future in which emotions and technology merge. Too sexually explicit and profane to recommend for under-17s, the film, with its rich, resonant script, striking design and minimalist score, will surely appeal to cinema buffs of college age and older.
The film includes a few steamy, at times explicit, sexual situations, which occur by phone, computer voice, and in-person, one involving a verbal sadomasochistic moment.