The Hundred-Foot Journey (Disney)
Like an airy souffle, director Lasse Hallstrom's food-themed romantic fantasy " has an elegant appearance and a charming taste, but not much substance. Still, there's little to offend on any level, so parents will probably find it acceptable for mature adolescents.
Picturesque, stately and thoroughly unrealistic, this is the story of the Kadam family, an Indian clan of restaurateurs. When political unrest results in the torching of their subcontinental establishment, they seek refuge in Europe, eventually settling — more or less by chance — in a small town in the French countryside. Cue the lush sunsets and Bastille Day fireworks.
The otherwise unnamed Papa Kadam (Om Puri) nurtures dreams of winning the local populace over to curry and cardamom. But the building in which he chooses to set up shop is directly across the road from the region's most venerable eatery, a Michelin-starred haven of the rich and famous presided over by the formidable Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren).
At first, Madame Mallory has nothing but contempt for her new neighbors, and resorts to dirty tricks to try to undermine them. One of Madame's sous chefs, by contrast, adopts a more welcoming attitude once she connects (professionally and personally) with the principal cook among Papa's progeny.
Young love, lavish foodstuffs, a conflicted protagonist. As they say in New Delhi, what's not to like?
The mostly restrained dialogue — often pleasingly urbane, now and then cliched — veers into vulgarity only once by our count. The film contains scenes of mob violence, implications of an intimate encounter and a single crude term. (A-III, PG)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount)
Thirty years after bursting onto the comic book scene, the wise-cracking, pizza-loving reptilian heroes re-emerge from the sewers of New York City. Their mission, once again: to save the world, with action and destruction (and noise level) ramped up in vivid 3-D, and the turtles effectively rendered through live action and motion-capture technology.
Fortunately, the script honors the ridiculousness of the subject matter and keeps tongue firmly in cheek. Director Jonathan Liebesman joins in the fun while slipping in a few good lessons about honor and family.
The turtles live beneath the Big Apple with a wise Japanese rat named Splinter, who has trained them in the martial arts. A reign of terror has gripped Gotham, thanks to a seemingly invincible gang of criminals led by a razor-sharp monster appropriately dubbed Shredder.
At first, the turtles do battle at night, fighting the Foot Clan while protecting their identity. All that changes when April (Megan Fox), an intrepid TV reporter, stumbles upon their ninja moves, but has a hard time convincing her cameraman and her skeptical boss, of the turtles' existence.
So she turns to an old family friend, a billionaire scientist with more than a passing interest in mutated reptiles — and a wicked secret alliance with Shredder for (of course) world domination.
It’s more thrill-ride than serious drama, and the action sequences may be too intense (and loud) for young viewers. Everyone else, however, will have a ball careening down sewer tunnels as though they were water slides on steroids.
The film contains intense but bloodless cartoon violence, some bathroom humor, and a few vague references to sexuality. (A-II, PG-13)
CNS classifications: A-I — general patronage. A-II — adults and adolescents. A-III — adults. A-IV — adults, with reservations. L — limited adult audiences, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. O — morally offensive.