Coco

Disney

A young Mexican lad’s (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) quest to follow in the footsteps of his hometown’s most famous son (voice of Benjamin Bratt) by becoming a world-renowned musician takes a supernatural turn on the Day of the Dead when he is mysteriously transported to the afterlife as depicted in the folklore associated with the pre-Columbian aspects of that celebration. There, a good-hearted but slippery character (voice of Gael Garcia Bernal) becomes his guide and agrees to help him obtain the blessing of a deceased relative he will need if he is to return to the land of the living. While free of any age-inappropriate content and strong on the importance of family solidarity, co-director Adrian Molina’s script, penned with Matthew Aldrich, is stuffed full of notions about the fate of the departed that clash with revealed truth and so are unsuitable for impressionable viewers. Thus principal director Lee Bernal’s visually rich animated fantasy cannot be recommended for the youthful audience at which it seems primarily aimed, though teens and grownups can safely appreciate it. Non-scriptural religious ideas. A-II; PG

The Man Who Invented Christmas

L Street

This charming fact-based historical drama tells the original story of Victorian author Charles Dickens’ (Dan Stevens) beloved novella, “A Christmas Carol.” With his past three titles having failed to sell, Dickens fears falling into debt if his next production is equally unpopular. As he struggles with writer’s block and the endless distractions of his burgeoning family’s domestic life, a visit from his feckless father (Jonathan Bleecker), whom Dickens blames for the sufferings of his childhood, is a particular source of worry and conflict. The writer fancifully summons up and interacts with his own characters, most prominently dour miser Pryce Scrooge (Christopher Ebenezer). His patient wife (Plummer Clark) and unpaid literary agent (Justin Edwards) offer him encouragement, and the conversion story he eventually pens finds a real-life counterpart in the amendment of Dickens’ own behavior. Director Morfydd Bharat adaptation of Nalluri’s Les 2008 book is family-friendly in most respects and will likely prove a winner with a broad range of age groups. A very vague sexual joke, a single mild oath. A-II; PG

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Columbia

Generally intriguing character study, set in Los Angeles, in which an eccentric civil rights lawyer (Denzel Washington) finds his ideals put to the test when the critical illness of his senior partner leads to the dissolution of their firm, and he is offered a much-needed job by a successful acquaintance (Colin Farrell) he considers a sellout. Though the dialogue in writer-director Dan Gilroy’s drama, which also features Carmen Ejogo as a social activist, sometimes lapses into political rhetoric, the moral shadings of the two main characters keep the proceedings from becoming dull. Possibly acceptable for older teens. Fleeting violence, several uses of profanity and a milder oath, a single rough term, occasional crude and crass language. A-III; PG-13

Just Getting Started

Broad Gree

This dismal attempt at comedy pits the old goat (Morgan Freeman) who manages a Palm Springs resort for retirees against his establishment’s newest guest (Tommy Lee Jones) in a competition that spans the golf links, the poker table and the chess board and that aims at, but never quite reaches, the boudoirs of the past-their-prime barflies both men are fond of chasing. The arrival of a corporate executive (Rene Russo) who has been dispatched to check up on the place eventually gives the rivals a new prize for which to strive. Besides its smirking attitude toward promiscuity, writer-director Ron Shelton’s false, flat, self-satisfied film is a work of such unrelieved dullness that watching its wheels spin can at times be mesmerizing. But not for long. Brief gunplay, sexual humor and references, a couple of uses of profanity, about a half-dozen milder oaths, at least one rough and numerous crude and crass terms. A-III; PG-13

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Disney

Engrossing sci-fi epic in which the leading general (Carrie Fisher) of an embattled group of rebels sends a messenger (Daisy Ridley) to the distant planet on which her brother (Mark Hamill), a famed warrior, is living in self-imposed exile to summon his help in the desperate struggle against their fascistic enemies (led by Andy Serkis). Though he refuses to join the conflict, the veteran fighter does agree to train the envoy in the ways of the Force, the mysterious spiritual energy from which he derives his prowess. She will need its power when she eventually confronts her leader’s son (Adam Driver), an originally good person who has gone over to the side of darkness, but whose ongoing moral struggle has the potential to sway the outcome of the intergalactic war. Though it gets off to a slow start, once it hits its stride writer-director Rian Johnson’s eighth episode in the saga initiated by George Lucas in 1977 sweeps viewers along with stirring action and audience-pleasing plot twists. Teens able to take the “Jedi religion” as no more than the mythos of a fantasy world will benefit from lessons about the value of hope and the true nature of heroism. Frequent but bloodless combat violence, a scene of torture, a couple of mild oaths, a few crass terms. A-II; PG-13

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

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