- - Friday, April 12, 2024

“The Long Game” wedges in a lot of positive messages about overcoming adversity and standing true to what’s right. There’s nothing tongue-in-cheek about “Civil War.” It’s serious, bloody and ground-pounding carnage. And plenty of it. While it has a compelling spin and some nice messages, “The Greatest Hits” won’t be music to most families’ collective ears.

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The Long Game – In Theaters, limited release

Various sources claim that the average game of golf takes around four hours to play, start to finish. But in “The Long Game” — based on a true story — J.B. teaches five Hispanic high school golfers that their game will take a lot longer to finish — one that continues even after they step off the green.

Unlike the other teams competing for high school glory in 1956, the San Felipe High School golf team must prove that it deserves to be competing with the rest of them. Because of their Hispanic heritage, everyone discounts them. It was a miracle that they even got to play in a single tournament — and with all eyes on them, they have to play and act their best — in both the games of golf and life — lest they give anyone a reason to kick them out of the sport for good.

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“The Long Game” stands as an inspiring story, and I’d even say it succeeds in the sports genre — one which can often feel overloaded with inspiring stories. Perhaps what helps the movie is that it’s positive messages often extend beyond the realm of sports.

Still, the film’s PG rating may belie its biggest content concern — the language, which occasionally pushes the boundary for a PG-13 rating.

But if you can look past the language, “The Long Game” comes out above average…or should I say under par?

Read the rest of the review here. Watch the trailer here.

Civil War – In Theaters

It’s an election year. And we live in an America that’s feeling the effects of superheated political rhetoric, daily news reports of strife and seemingly unbridgeable ideological divides. Add in an emotional stew of sometimes inflammatory reporting and social media hysteria, and it’s no wonder that everyday citizens are suffering through a pressure cooker sense of uncertainty. Is there anyone you can believe? Is anything actually trustworthy, reasoned and factual?

That kind of environment — one that harkens back to the protest rage of the 1960s, the difficult days of the 1930s or, some even say, the armed hostilities of the 1860s — opens the door for “Civil War.” This is a film that imagines a worst-case scenario in which a battered and bifurcated country tumbles over its own brink.

Unlike what the film’s trailer might suggest, however, British writer/director Alex Garland doesn’t rub a viewers’ face in his personal brand of political or social commentary. There are definitely hints about where he and his film are leaning, but he keeps things narratively neutral. “Civil War” doesn’t comment on why its imagined future might be happening, it just asks us to consider the terrible consequences, the horrors, the ugly decimation of things we hold dear.

And it does so through an unflinching and viscerally pounding war story; a character-driven tale of journalism.

In that sense, “Civil War” is far more than you might expect. It becomes a cautionary tale that shakes its viewers by the lapel and warns against shrieking anger, unbridled exuberance and complacency.

Of course, potential moviegoers must also take into consideration that this is a very R-rated war movie. Torture, execution and pinpoint deadliness is rampant and gushingly bloody. By the time high-tech war is unleashed in the streets of Washington, D.C., and eardrum-pounding explosive rounds rip apart just about everything, living and dead, there is no right or wrong, no good guys or bad. There’s just ground-pounding slaughter.

Viewers are pummeled with the white-knuckled, bloody and very profane stuff of war here. It’s no easygoing stroll with a popcorn bucket.

Read the rest of the review here. Watch the trailer here.

The Greatest Hits – Streaming on Hulu

“The Greatest Hits” was almost a really sweet movie. It almost said some really important things about grief and our capacity, as humans, to process it and continue living—even thrive.

It almost did a lot of things.

But it didn’t.

The minute this film revealed that Harriet is, in fact, actually time traveling to the past — that it’s not just how she processes Max’s loss after her head injury — it negated any positive messages it might have said about moving on from grief.

Harriet never moves on. Rather, she decides it’s better to wallow in the past than move on and recover.

I don’t fault her for wanting to save Max. That’s an admirable quality (if a bit obsessive in her unique case). But I do fault the filmmakers for failing to demonstrate how a person can healthily move on from a tragic loss and even find love again.

Adding to the film’s problematic time-travel component, we must add foul language, all manner of sexual content and Harriet’s borderline alcoholism (given that she drinks heavily every night to aid in her time-travel episodes), and “The Greatest Hits” isn’t one of the greatest hits at all.

Read the rest of the review here. Watch the trailer here.

Plugged In is a Focus on the Family publication designed to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving families the essential tools they need to understand, navigate, and impact the culture in which they live. Through our reviews, articles and discussions, we hope to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

Reviews written by Bob Hoose, Emily Tsaio, Kennedy Unthank.


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