This week, Christy looks at Jennifer Garner’s new film, the third installment in the Divergent Series, and indie auteur Jeff Daniels’ father and son supernatural drama. Then, on home video, she revisits 2015’s critic’s darling Brooklyn and weighs in on The Chipmunks latest shenanigans. Read on for details.
NEW IN THEATERS
Rating: PG, for thematic material including accident and medical issues
This is based on the true story of Texas mom Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner), whose 10-year-old daughter, Annabel (Kylie Rogers) suddenly suffered from a rare and potentially fatal intestinal disorder – and, just as suddenly, was cured. A 30-foot fall through the hollowed-out trunk of a cottonwood tree miraculously healed Annabel. But while she was trapped on the ground, she says she had an out-of-body experience in which she went to heaven and God told her she’d be fine. Hence the title. “Miracles From Heaven” contains many stressful moments as Christy and Annabel travel back and forth to Boston for treatment, which doesn’t seem to be working. Anna and a young girl in the hospital bed next to her, who’s battling cancer, discuss very frankly whether they’re afraid of dying. But there are also many moments of uplift, kindness and faith. Fine for kids around 7 and older.
Rating: PG-13, for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some partial nudity.
The penultimate “Divergent” movie finds Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James) and their rag-tag band of buddies daring to climb the wall surrounding Chicago to investigate the outside world. As in all of these movies (and post-apocalyptic Young Adult fare in general), there’s a ton of violence. A lot of it involves gunfire and hand-to-hand combat. But toward the end, there’s also the climactic threat that an orange gas being pumped through the ventilation system will cause massive memory loss. Adults are universally nefarious figures. Several young people are shot to death, children are hunted down and snatched from their parents for scientific experiments and one little boy watches as his father is fatally shot in front of him. There’s also a tad bit of nudity during a shower scene. Fine for viewers around 13 and older.
Rating: PG-13, for some violence and action.
The fourth film from indie auteur Jeff Nichols (“Take Shelter,” “Mud”) once again finds him reteaming with the great Michael Shannon for this sci-fi thriller. This time, Shannon plays the father of a young boy (Jaeden Liberher) whose mysterious powers make him a prophet for some and a target for others. Father and son go on the run with the help of an old friend (Joel Edgerton) as they try to elude both the religious cult to which they’d belonged and federal authorities. There’s great tension throughout as well as some startling special effects, including chunks of a satellite raining down on a gas station. The boy’s eyes beam a bright light at various points, which may be frightening for younger viewers to see, and he’s in constant peril. There’s also a bit of gunfire. But it’s a powerfully written and acted story about a father-son bond, sacrifice and love. Fine for mature tweens and older.
NEW ON DVD
Rating: PG, for or some mild rude humor and language.
If your kids want to watch a movie at home – and if you have laundry to fold or dinner to make or something, anything else to do – this is fine for all ages. This time, singing chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore suspect that Dave (Jason Lee) will propose to his girlfriend (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) while visiting Miami with her and abandon them for good. So they team up with her surly son (Josh Green) to travel across the country and stop Dave from popping the question. Madcap computer-generated hilarity and squeaky musical numbers ensue. (Although the effects are pretty darn seamless, I must say.) This movie is harmless. Many jokes are intended for grown-ups and will go over kids’ heads. Tony Hale co-stars as an air marshal who’s insistent on nabbing the chipmunks after they unleash all the animals from an airplane’s cargo hold, but he’s a pretty cartoonish villain. And “The Road Chip” features the most wholesome depiction of New Orleans ever committed to film, as the boys perform “Uptown Funk” with a brass band in the French Quarter. The entire song.
Rating: PG-13, for a scene of sexuality and brief strong language.
Saoirse Ronan duly earned an Academy Award nomination for best actress for her beautiful, blossoming performance as an Irish immigrant coming into her own in 1950s Brooklyn. Ronan is absolutely radiant as the determined Eilis, who starts out shy and homesick but evolves into a young woman of great poise and confidence as she finds her place in a new land. Eilis and her longtime boyfriend (a magnetic Emory Cohen) kiss quite a bit, and there’s the suggestion that they have sex. There’s also a bit of language. But this is a great film for tweens to see, especially the girls in your house. It’s all about figuring out who you are and being true to yourself under difficult and emotionally charged circumstances