NEW THIS WEEK:
-- MORE LAYERS ARE PEELED OFF THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL-INTELLIGENCE CONSPIRACY IN THIS GRIPPING, IF CONFUSING, POSTSCRIPT TO THE "BOURNE" MOVIES:
"THE BOURNE LEGACY" PG-13 -- The brainy, frenetic action sequences in "The Bourne Legacy" will surely capture the imaginations of high-schoolers. The level of violence is awfully high for a PG-13 (though not very gory), so the film is iffy for middle-schoolers. High-schoolers may also be better equipped to follow the incredibly complex narrative in this film, which moves deftly and circuitously beyond the novels by Robert Ludlum, introducing a new, secretly trained -- and chemically enhanced -- protagonist in Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). We meet Cross, a secret agent on the run in Alaska, as he gradually comes to understand that his own bosses -- particularly Edward Norton as retired Col. Eric Byer, U.S. Air Force -- in the post-9/11 intelligence web are trying to kill him and his fellow operatives in a program called Outcome. Col. Byer worries that the secret program, which trained and chemically enhanced the IQs of Cross and others, may be exposed. Back in the Lower 48, a worker (Zeljko Ivanek) in the pharmaceutical lab that makes the serums for Outcome goes into a sort of trance, pulls a gun and murders his co-workers. The only one to escape is Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). Cross finds her in hopes of getting more doses of his "chems." They go on the run from various secret agencies in a chase that winds up in the Philippines. The body count is high in this sometimes incomprehensible thriller, though all you really need to know is the government has lied to and murdered its own agents, all in the name of national security.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The mayhem features drone attacks, explosions, gun battles, and bone-cracking hand-to-hand combat, as well as occasional midrange profanity. The multiple murder of his co-workers by a researcher in the pharmaceutical lab is very unsettling, given real-life news these days.
-- MERYL STREEP AND TOMMY LEE JONES CREATE BEAUTIFULLY OBSERVED, POIGNANTLY FUNNY PORTRAITS OF A 60-ISH MARRIED COUPLE IN COUNSELING IN THIS TERRIFIC DRAMEDY FOR GROWN-UPS:
"HOPE SPRINGS" PG-13 -- For high-schoolers into the finer points of great acting (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are the stars, and they're amazing), or perhaps psychology, "Hope Springs" will prove both entertaining and full of subtle emotional rewards. For most high-schoolers, however, watching a long-married couple in their 60s undergo soul-baring marital counseling -- and even worse, try to rekindle their sexual relationship -- will not be their idea of entertainment. (The film has too much emphasis on adult sexuality, including some fairly specific sexual situations, for middle-schoolers.) Streep and Jones play Kay and Arnold, middle-class empty-nesters from Omaha whose marriage has gone cold. Kay is lonely and desperate to put romance and true connection back into their lives. Without asking Arnold, she signs them up for a week of intensive counseling in Maine with a famous marriage expert, Dr. Feld (Steve Carell, playing it straight). As Feld gently explores their dysfunction, the uncommunicative Arnold and the eager Kay have moments of agonizing -- and funny -- awkwardness. And when Feld asks them to try having sex again, awkward doesn't cover it.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The film includes several quite explicit (for a PG-13) sexual situations between Kay and Arnold, as they try to renew their relationship. There is no nudity, but some of the sex scenes feel quite intimate and real compared to other films. There's even one encounter in a movie theater. They also discuss sexual acts fairly graphically in the counseling sessions, drink wine and use occasional profanity.
-- THIS RAUNCHY, PROFANE, AND, REGRETTABLY, ADULTS-ONLY SPOOF HITS OUR PRESENT-DAY POLITICS RIGHT WHERE IT HURTS:
"THE CAMPAIGN" R -- Profanity, graphic sexual situations, ethnic stereotyping and general meanness pervade this truly hilarious satire (not all that exaggerated, really) of modern American politics, so The Family Filmgoer cannot recommend it for anyone under 17. College-age moviegoers and any other adults who pay attention to politics -- as long as they aren't easily offended -- will be wiping away tears of laughter. Slick, insincere and lazy, Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has had a multi-term lock on his district in North Carolina, always running unopposed. But a pornographic phone message intended for one of his mistresses has gone viral and his numbers are dropping. An unlikely opponent then enters the race -- Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), a sweet-natured, clueless, wimpy family man. He's forced into it by his moneybags father (Brian Cox) and his father's influential cohorts, the Motch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd), who secretly donate millions to politicians who favor their laissez-faire business ideas. They hope Marty will be their puppet and they send macho handler Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to help Marty man up. The contest gets ugly fast, with smears, seductions, betrayals, fisticuffs and wildly false accusations.
THE BOTTOM LINE: In addition to graphic sexual situations, steaming profanity and sexual slang, the film shows, for comic effect, Cam accidentally punching a baby in the face -- in a slow-motion close-up of the infant getting hit. A dog comes in for the same treatment. This is obviously fake, but some people won't be amused. Fundamentalist Christians are also the target of a lot of ribbing. An Asian-American housekeeper is forced to affect a stereotypical African-American way of speaking because it reminds her boss of the Old South. Characters also drink and smoke.
(c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group.