EDITORS: The Family Filmgoer will later file today a review of "Wreck-It Ralph" (PG) due to a late screening. The review will move tomorrow.
NEW THIS WEEK
-- DENZEL WASHINGTON IS RIVETING TO WATCH IN THIS TURGID CAUTIONARY TALE ABOUT A FLAWED HERO:
"FLIGHT" R -- Not for under-17s, as it depicts serious drug and alcohol abuse, "Flight" walks a sometimes clumsy line between thriller and morality play. Denzel Washington acts up a storm as brilliant commercial pilot Whip Whitaker. We meet Whip as he awakens in a hotel with his naked girlfriend, flight attendant Katerina (Nadine Velazquez). He's still drunk from the night before, and drinking his breakfast. She's smoking a joint. He snorts cocaine to wake up. They have a flight soon. Whip apparently functions in spite of his habits. He guides the plane through nasty turbulence as they leave Florida and head to Atlanta. But as they start their descent, some mechanical failure sends the plane into a dire nosedive. Through sheer skill, Whip rights the plane in time to achieve a crash landing. His co-pilot (Brian Geraghty) is badly injured. Two flight attendants and four passengers die, but 96 people survive. Whip, everyone says, is a hero. Then he learns from his union rep (Bruce Greenwood) and lawyer (Don Cheadle) that the National Transportation Safety Board wants to make public the after-crash toxicology report noting the alcohol and cocaine levels in his blood. Whip refuses to concede he has a problem. While he's at the hospital for his injuries, he meets a drug addict, Nicole (Kelly Reilly). They start a romance, but Nicole wants to stay sober, and Whip isn't ready. Ultimately, it's Whip himself who showily faces down his troubles.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The alcoholism and drug addiction in the film are portrayed unflinchingly and unattractively and can be seen as cautionary messages. The opening scene includes frontal female nudity. There are some nonexplicit sexual situations. Characters use strong profanity. Scenes involving the plane flying through a storm, and then the catastrophic equipment malfunction, are harrowing.
-- A BLEAK COMEDY OF ADULT MISBEHAVIOR:
"THE DETAILS" R, Limited Release -- Tobey Maguire plays a very flawed man in this dark, self-consciously quirky comedy of human foibles and muddled morality, best geared to college-age filmgoers 17 and older. Jeff (Maguire) is an obstetrician, married to Nealy (Elizabeth Banks). The couple are going through a chilly patch in their marriage. Jeff relies on Internet porn, but then initiates a sexual tryst with their friend Peter's (Ray Liotta) wife Rebecca (Kerry Washington). Peter learns about it and blackmails Jeff. Meanwhile, Jeff has begun an addition to their house, as he and Nealy are expecting a second child. He decides to build it in violation of zoning laws. Hoping to convince their persnickety neighbor Lila (Laura Linney) to ignore the construction, Jeff befriends her, a move she sees as romantic. It all gets into a tangle, and Jeff knows he's in murky moral waters. So he tries to do good by donating a kidney to Lincoln (Dennis Haysbert), an ailing man on his after-work basketball team. Eager to show his gratitude, Lincoln then goes far over the moral line in helping Jeff out of a jam.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Adultery and other betrayals are key themes. There is one act of murderous violence. Lila's cat dies after ingesting poison Jeff put out to rid his yard of raccoons. It occurs off-camera, but we see the body. A raccoon is deliberately run over and we see that body, too. There are a couple of explicit sexual situations, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and talk of abortion. Characters use pot, drink, swear strongly and use sexual slang.
-- 0 -- -- 0 -- -- 0 --
(c) 2012, Washington Post Writers Group.