Daddy’s Home 2

Paramount

Silly slapstick predominates in this follow-up to the 2015 comedy about the blending pains of a post-divorce family. As the stepfather (Will Ferrell) and biological dad (Mark Wahlberg) whose rivalry fueled the first outing try to preserve the fragile harmony they’ve achieved during a Christmas visit by their own temperamentally contrasting fathers (sensitive John Lithgow and trouble-loving womanizer Mel Gibson), returning director and co-writer Sean Anders busies himself finding outlandish mishaps for Ferrell’s character to undergo. Although the film is mostly harmless, late scenes mix lame holiday-themed sentimentality with weirdly uncomfortable attempts to wring laughs from one shared child’s (Owen Vaccaro) emerging sexuality, putting this strictly off-limits for young viewers. Much sexual humor, including a sight gag about homosexuality, a few mild oaths, occasional crude and frequent crass language, an obscene gesture. A-III; PG-13 

Murder on the Orient Express 

Fox 

Sleek ensemble whodunit, set in the 1930s, presents Agatha Christie’s famed Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh, who also directed), with an array of plausible suspects after a gangster (Johnny Depp) meets a grisly end on the luxurious train of the title. As Poirot questions the victim’s secretary (Josh Gad), butler (Derek Jacobi) and fellow passengers, most prominently, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz and Willem Dafoe, religious undertones are interwoven into a narrative that raises significant moral issues. Like the crime itself, and an earlier tragedy to which it seems to be tied, these ethical questions are unsuitable for kids. But Branagh’s take on this classic tale, made into a 1974 film by Sidney Lumet, is sufficiently restrained in other respects as to be possibly acceptable for older adolescents. A vengeance theme, scenes of violence, some gory images, a couple of uses of profanity, a few milder oaths, occasional sexual references. A-III; PG-13 </span id=”6″>

Novitiate 

Sony Classics 

At a time when the reforms of Vatican II caused some nuns to leave the convent, a wide-eyed young woman (Margaret Qualley) decides to enter, having fallen in love with God. There, a rigid tyrant of a mother superior (Melissa Leo) lords it over her new charges, making it her mission to scrutinize them to see if they are up to the rigors of life in the order. Writer-director Margaret Betts follows the novices as they struggle with faith, sexuality and the effects of change in the church. An artistic drama with compelling performances, the film nonetheless reveals its creator’s lack of familiarity with Catholicism and ultimately takes a stand viewers of faith are bound to reject. Strong sexual content, including full nudity, same-sex kissing, implied masturbation and lesbian sexual activity, one use of profanity, several instances of rough language, at least one crude term. O; R 

Justice League 

Warner Bros. 

With Superman (Henry Cavill) dead, and the world threatened by a giant alien (Ciaran Hinds) with a scheme to unleash apocalyptic destruction, Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) assemble a team of superheroes, or, in DC Comics parlance, metahumans, the Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), to thwart the invader. Picking up where his 2016 feature, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” left off, director Zack Snyder deploys predictably outsized special effects. But the meager, been-here-before story laid out in Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon’s screenplay features a crucial plot development that may not go down well with Christian viewers and offers little in the way of human interest, though there are laughs to be had from the Flash’s socially inept persona. Constant stylized violence, two uses of profanity, a milder oath, several crude and a couple of crass terms, some bleeped-out swearing. A-III; PG-13 </span id=”14″>

Let There Be Ligh

Atlas 

Evangelical Christian drama with a familiar plot: A wayward sinner, in this case a famous atheist author (Kevin Sorbo, who also directed), undergoes a change of heart. His conversion is sparked by a near-death experience during which he is temporarily reunited with his young son (Ethan Jones) whose untimely demise from cancer embittered him against God. An uneasy blend of sincere religious sentiment and political propaganda characterizes the proceedings once Fox News personality Sean Hannity, the film’s executive producer, appears on screen. Even before that, several twists and turns in the dialogue, penned by Dan Gordon and Sorbo’s wife, Sam, who also plays his character’s ex, come out sounding odd. So too does the “Sopranos”-style sermonette delivered by a convict-turned-pastor (Michael Franzese) who describes in vivid terms the miraculous event that transpired after the Lord got “whacked.” Mature themes, scenes of excessive alcohol use. A-III; PG-13 </span id=”18″>

No Greater Love 

Atlas 

Compelling documentary about the experiences of U.S. combat soldiers in Afghanistan as well as their postwar struggles to resume their lives back home. In 2011, Justin D. Roberts, who directed and co-wrote the narration with Alan Wain, served in Afghanistan as an Army chaplain. He carried a camera to document his service with the 327th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. Using war footage, he follows the tight-knit band of brothers as it faces constant sniper fire, explosions and suicide bomb attacks. The battle overseas won, a new one begins as soldiers return to America and struggle (along with their families) with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and, for many, the lingering effects of damaging brain injuries. Graphic wartime violence and bloodshed, mature themes, some rough language. A-III; Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. 

Wonder 

(Lionsgate) 

Gentle, moving drama about a 10-year-old boy (Jacob Tremblay) born with facial deformities and his struggle to win acceptance from his peers as he transitions from being educated at home to attending the fifth grade of his local middle school. His sympathetic parents (Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) offer support as does his older sister (Izabela Vidovic), despite the fact that his emotional needs have left her feeling overlooked by Mom and Dad. The attitudes of his fellow students (most prominently Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar and Millie Davis) range from open friendliness to cruel hostility with Jupe’s character representing a case study in moral subtlety and the negative effects of peer pressure. In adapting R.J. Palacio’s best-seller, director and co-writer Stephen Chbosky has created a winning and memorable film about the significance of ordinary life and the lasting impact of everyday choices. The movie’s ethical lessons make it appropriate and valuable fare for most teens. A scene vaguely referencing married sexuality, fleeting scatological material, a couple of fistfights, one use of profanity, a single mildly crass term. A-II; PG 

USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classifications: 

A-I – General patronage 

A-II – Adults and adolescents 

A-III – Adults 

A-IV – Adults, with reservations 

L – Limited adult audience 

O – Morally offensive 

Motion Picture Association of America ratings: 

G – General audiences; all ages admitted 

PG – Parental guidance suggested; some material may not be suitable for children 

PG-13 – Parents are strongly cautioned to give special guidance for attendance of children under 13; some material may be inappropriate for young children 

R – Restricted; under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian 

NC-17 – No one under 17 admitted