Oz the Great and Powerful

Widespread agreement that this is basically a family film, with PG ratings almost everywhere. There was a more adult thematic material than I was expecting, Marilyn the opening focus on Oscar’s womanizing and the subsequent consequences, but I suppose it’s nothing children need to be warned about.

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The Movie Out Here

The Movie Out Here is a curious production. It’s a low-budget low-brow comedy, where beer is essential to the plot, yet everyone drinks responsibly. Filmed and set in British Columbia, it is only being distributed in Western Canada. No surprise to learn that it was made by the same company that makes commercials for the local brand of beer featured in the film.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with product placement films. To some degree, all films, even those without obvious product placement, reinforce specific cultural, consumer, and moral positions. But especially when the advertising is obvious, the film should also be entertaining. According to the only review I could find, this film is not.

Given the limited distribution, there are few ratings available. British Columbia and Manitoba rated it 14A, while Alberta decided the “crude sexual content” made the 18A rating appropriate. Despite that, they also note the thematic elements: “true friendship, responsibility, [and] living with integrity.” So maybe there’s a heartwarming story in here somewhere.

Identity Thief

Once upon a time, road movies were all about breaking free of social constraints. There were cool cars, a sex scene or two, some crashes, and a nihilistic ending (that’ll teach you to rebel and be free). Then along came Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Midnight Run, essentially conservative road films about restoring social order. Social angst was replaced by comedy. Identity Thief follows strongly in that tradition: A hard working family man takes the law into his own hands to literally bring a criminal to justice. We still have cool cars and crashes, however the ending is Frank Capra’s dream of a just America. That’ll teach you to think about rebelling and being free.

All this conformity is sweetened with pop culture references and gratuitous swearing. British Columbia counted 99 instances. There is also the obligatory sex scene, kinky enough to alarm American film classifiers at the MPAA, despite an almost complete lack of nudity, and they gave it an R rating. Canadian classifiers let the sex scene slide, and rated the film 14A (13+ in Quebec). BBFC, in the United Kingdom, issued a similar 15 rating.

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