This guide comes from our archive. It was written by Rachel Helen Smith.
The once ill-tempered super-villain Gru (Steve Carell) has given up a life of crime in order to care for his boisterous adopted daughters, Agnes (Elsie Fisher), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Margo (Miranda Cosgrove). However, when someone steals a secret Arctic laboratory using a giant magnet, The Anti-Villain League (AVL) recruit Gru to help them find the thief. He is put to work alongside perky undercover AVL agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) and finds himself hiding out in a bakery at The Paradise Shopping Mall.
Life at home is just as eventful. Gru’s assistant Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) has decided that he misses being evil and is leaving for a new job. Margo has fallen for the handsome young Antonio (Moisés Arias). Agnes must recite a poem about mothers in the school performance, but really she longs for a mother of her own. To top it all, Gru’s minions keep going missing. But most despicable of all, everyone seems insistent on helping Gru to fall in love…
This guide is from our archive. It was written by Rachel Helen Smith.
What We Did On Our Holiday is rated 12A for moderate bad language, discriminatory language, moderate sex references
The McLeod family are setting off on a holiday in the Scottish Highlands. Surprising, given that parents Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) are about to get a divorce. They have been living in separate houses – they fight constantly – and so the idea to take a trip together seems bound to end in tears. However, they have all promised not to talk about the imminent separation during the holiday.
It’s because they are planning to visit Doug’s father Gordie (Billy Connolly) to celebrate his birthday. Gordie is suffering from cancer and they are desperate not to upset him. However, the presence of Doug’s obnoxious brother Gavin (Ben Miller), his depressed wife Margaret (Amelia Bullmore) and their nerdy son Kenneth (Lewis Davie) inevitably makes things even more difficult. Indeed, it is not long before they discover that various family members are keeping even more unexpected secrets.
The Scoop – A joyous and uplifting addition to the Disney pantheon
Long ago, the trickster god Maui (Dwayne Johnson) stole the Heart of Te Fiti – a stone belonging to an island goddess, which possessed the power to create life. When Maui was attacked by the lava demon Te Ka, the Heart of Te Fiti was lost, bringing down a curse which would eventually spread to all the surrounding islands.
A thousand years later, Chieftain’s daughter Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) is preparing to take on her responsibilities as a leader on the island of Motunui. Her father (Temuera Morrison) has forbidden her to go out on the ocean, but she can’t help but feel drawn there. When Motunui’s resources are threatened by a mysterious darkness, Moana’s grandmother (Rachel House) tells her that she is the chosen one: she must discover the truth about her seafaring ancestors, find Maui, and restore the Heart of Te Fiti.
Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly.
The Skeleton Twins is rated 15 for strong language, sex, sex references. The film is now available on DVD.
Twins Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) haven’t spoken in ten years. When Milo’s failed suicide attempt brings his sister to the hospital, the two are forced to resume their relationship. Once drawn close together by tragedy in their childhood, they have now taken very different paths.
Flamboyant failing actor Milo is horrified to discover that his sister now apparently lives in blissful, bland domesticity with her upbeat husband, Lance (Luke Wilson). But under the surface, Maggie is struggling just as much as her brother. Her marriage is built on a crumbling foundation of lies, and her will to keep going is failing.
As the twins begin to reconnect, their blossoming mutual understanding is threatened by ghosts from the past: the parents who made them who they are, and Rich (Ty Burrell), the high school teacher whose relationship with Milo cast a shadow over all of their lives.
This is a child-friendly guide; some of the discussion questions are for younger viewers. Kubo and the Two Strings is rated PG for mild fantasy violence, scary scenes
The Scoop – A deep, dark and mind-blowingly magical adventure
Kubo (Art Parkinson) is a fearless storyteller whose days are spent entertaining crowds in the marketplace with tales of adventure. His nights, however, are spent caring for his sick mother, and wondering about the father he never got to meet.
Then Kubo unwittingly catches the attention of the villainous Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and is plunged into an adventure of his own. Torn away from his home, he must embark on a quest to salvage the lost pieces of his father’s armour – accompanied by his fierce protector Monkey (Charlize Theron), and the dim-witted Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), a cursed Samurai warrior.
Midnight Special is rated 12A for moderate violence, threat
The Scoop – Intriguing, affecting Sci-Fi which keeps its cards close to its chest
Two men and a young boy are on the run in the dead of night. Sneaking out of a motel room, they climb into a nondescript car and drive away. To avoid being spotted by the police, they turn off the headlights, the driver donning night-vision goggles so he can see the road in the darkness. The boy in the back seat is wearing goggles too – for a very different reason.
He is Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher), an eight-year-old possessed of mysterious powers which mean that he must be kept out of daylight. One of the men, Roy (Michael Shannon), is Alton’s father; the other, Lucas (Joel Edgerton), Roy’s childhood friend. Having kidnapped Alton from a cult which sees his abilities as messianic, they are on their way to rendezvous with Alton’s mother, Sarah (Kirsten Dunst).
Roy, Lucas and Sarah believe that they are taking Alton to meet his destiny. But other people, with other ideas, are in pursuit.
The Scoop – Though not as riotously entertaining as David O. Russel’s best work, Joy nevertheless provides a great showcase for Jennifer Lawrence as a truly inspirational woman.
Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) was a creative, vivacious, high-achieving child. But somewhere along the line, life stole her spark. Her parents’ divorce, a failed marriage to Tony (Edgar Ramirez), caring for two children, trying to hold down a job, and managing the chaos that her mother (Virginia Madsen), father (Robert De Niro) and half-sister (Elisabeth Rohm) throw her way, have all caused Joy to sideline her own dreams.
Her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) is determined to see Joy rise and take her place as matriarch and provider for the family. And when Joy hits on an ingenious design for a self-wringing mop, it could be the key to unleashing her buried potential.
The Scoop – An entertaining adventure which will please long-standing fans, and bring a new generation into the fold
Thirty years have passed since the events of Return of the Jedi, and the galaxy is under threat once again. Legendary Jedi Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has disappeared, and a power called the First Order has risen from the ashes of the fallen Galactic Empire. The Resistance, led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher), is attempting to fight back, sending out ace pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) on Luke’s trail.
The Scoop – An endearing but ultimately somewhat forgettable Pixar offering
What if the meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs had missed? The Good Dinosaur imagines an alternative pre-history in which dinosaurs have evolved to become the dominant species on earth. Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), a timid young Apatosaurus, helps out his parents and siblings on their farm. But his fears stop him from truly taking his place in the family.
Then tragedy strikes, and Arlo finds himself lost a long way from home. He’ll need all of his courage – and the help of his unexpected friend Spot (Jack Bright) – to find his way back.
The Scoop – a sweet-natured, old-fashioned love story that’s bound to charm.
A big change is coming for small-town Irish girl Eilis (Saoirse Ronan). Concerned about the lack of opportunities for her at home, her older sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) has arranged for her to emigrate to Brooklyn, New York. One rather rough voyage later and Eilis is walking through the famed checkpoint at Ellis Island, into her new life.
At first all she can think about is how much she misses home. But with the encouragement of kindly priest Father Flood (Jim Broadbent), and of the community of women in the boarding house where she stays, Eilis gains confidence. When she meets a kind, funny Italian boy named Tony (Emory Cohen) she begins to fall in love both with him and with Brooklyn.
Just when she’s beginning to think of America as her home, Eilis gets some shattering news from Ireland. She will need to decide, once and for all, where she really belongs.