NEW THIS WEEK
-- A KIDDIE FLICK THAT HAMMERS YOU WITH CUTESEY-WOOTSINESS:
"THE OOGIELOVES IN THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE G -- At a regular showing of "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure," The Family Filmgoer noted at least one child of age 2 or 3 got up and danced when this film asked her to. That's the demographic at which this aggressively cutesy, candy-colored film aims its garish charms. It opened in theaters last weekend with such dismal box office totals, they earned headlines, but creator and co-producer Kenn Viselman pronounced it good advance publicity for its video release, and sequels. A magical tale in which live actors engage with huge puppets (perhaps operated by actors, too, inside all that colorful felt and padding -- but hard to tell), the film feels endless at 88 minutes. It follows the adventures of Oogielove siblings Toofie (Malerie Grady), Zoozie (Stephanie Renz) and Goobie (Misty Miller), as they head out to retrieve the lost magic balloons for their friend Schluufy the Pillow's (voice of Taras Los) birthday party. The vacuum cleaner J. Edgar (Nick Drago) sends them off, with the help of Windy (Mia Elliott), a magical face in the window who helps locate where each of the balloons has gone. The Oogieloves meet a bubble salesman, Bobby Wobbly (Cary Elwes); a polka-dot fanatic, Dotty Rounder (Cloris Leachman) and her granddaughter, Jubilee (Kylie O'Brien); a hip milkshake maven, Marvin Milkshake (Chazz Palminteri); and a vain singing star, Rosalie Rosebud (Toni Braxton), all of whom help retrieve the balloons. At several junctures, kids in the audience are invited to stand up and dance to songs, then are told when it's time to sit down. The film plays like a bad 1950s kids' show.
THE BOTTOM LINE: There is nothing offensive or scary in this odd confection.
-- A FILM ABOUT THE PRESIDENT FROM A RIGHT-WING PERSPECTIVE, INTERESTING FOR POLITICALLY AWARE HIGH-SCHOOLERS:
"2016: OBAMA'S AMERICA" PG -- This film by conservative thinker Dinesh D'Souza, based on his articles and his 2010 book "The Roots of Obama's Rage," has made it into the box office top 10 in the last couple of weeks. It offers a hard-right take on President Barack Obama, from his childhood forward. For high-schoolers and college-age kids interested in the coming election, the film offers a partisan jumping-off point from which they could do their own reading and research, perhaps starting with the president's 1995 autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," from which D'Souza quotes and interprets in his own way. He also interviews fellow conservative scholars, Kenyan relatives of Obama's, Kenyan friends of the father Obama barely knew, and former friends of his late mother's. D'Souza and co-director John Sullivan also weave in re-enactments of scenes from Obama's life. These are common in "non-fiction" films today, but are a dubious tool when not clearly labeled. Then he concludes that Obama's background has turned him into an "anti-colonial," anti-American zealot who aims to reduce the United States to a more socialist, empireless equal among nations, and no longer a beacon of freedom and prosperity to the world. Despite D'Souza's mild-mannered style, his film comes quite close to calling the president a traitor.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Some people are shown smoking.
-- A TRIO OF THIRTY-SOMETHING WOMEN MISBEHAVE AT A FRIEND'S WEDDING IN THIS VERY ADULT, DARKLY COMIC FABLE:
"BACHELORETTE" R, Limited Release -- Too profane, drug-addled and sexually explicit for under-17s, "Bachelorette" is better aimed at adults in their twenties and thirties. It traces the misadventures of three 30-something female friends and the mean and/or self-destructive things they get into during a pal's wedding weekend. The movie is based on a play by Leslye Headland, who also did the film adaptation. She has changed the plot a bit and toned down the nihilistic ending. Regan (Kirsten Dunst), the classic bossy "mean girl" who hasn't changed since high school, is supposedly helping her friend Becky (Rebel Wilson) have a great wedding. But as maid of honor, Regan must wrangle fellow bridesmaids Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and Katie (Isla Fisher). Gena hates her life and medicates with cocaine and booze. Katie thinks of herself as stupid and drinks or pops anything anyone gives her and sleeps with any guy who offers. Regan, Gena and Katie are secretly furious that the overweight Becky is the first of their high-school clique to marry. While Becky is off with her family, her three "friends" inadvertently tear her wedding gown while making fun of its size, and spend the rest of their nighttime bender trying to get it fixed. They also flirt and/or have sex with Joe (Kyle Bornheimer), Trevor (James Marsden) and Clyde (Adam Scott), one of them perhaps finding true love at last. "Bachelorette" examines a subset of young adults who, it seems, were raised to believe that everything they ever did was great. Now they are bitter, unpleasant folks, but fascinating to watch.
THE BOTTOM LINE: In addition to the sheer mean-spiritedness and emotional sterility of the characters, they engage in a couple of pretty explicit sexual situations, much graphic sex talk, strong profanity, and free use of cocaine, marijuana and alcohol, with one character nearly overdosing. Two people discuss a long-ago teenage pregnancy and abortion. There is some punching and shoving.
(c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group.