Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) PICK
The Guns of Navarone (1961) PICK
Monte Carlo (2011) PICK
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) PASS
Winnie the Pooh (2011) PICK
Three wholesome, old-fashioned films that were among the summer’s better offerings are new on home video: one for even the youngest viewers, one for action fans, and one for ’tween girls.
Disney’s Winnie the Pooh is among the year’s best family films, a gently charming and whimsical lark that honors the spirit of the classic A.A. Milne stories. After a decade or so of mediocre Pooh adaptations like The Tigger Movie and Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, Disney has finally managed to recapture the magic of the early Disney Pooh cartoons circa The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Defying the origin-movie doldrums of recent super-hero fare like Thor and Green Lantern, Captain America: The First Avenger is as gratifyingly old-fashioned as its hero, a Greatest Generation icon who embodies respect, courage, responsibility, self-sacrifice and humility. Director Joe Johnston brings the story of a 98-pound weakling (Chris Evans) transformed by science into an American soldier and pitted against his Nazi opposite number (Hugo Weaving) to the screen with period appeal and echoes of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Then there’s Monte Carlo, a pleasant wish-fulfillment fantasy for ’tween girls starring Selena Gomez (Ramona & Beezus) in a mistaken-identity romp about a trio of Texas girls who go to Paris for a dream vacation that goes wrong — until one of them is taken for a wealthy British heiress, and they find themselves swept up into a dream world of fabulous gowns and jewelry, romantic balls, European princes and much more. It’s no Roman Holiday, but it’s in the same frothy spirit.
Not on par with any of the above is the latest adventure with Capts. Jack Sparrow and Hector Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. “Suggested by” Catholic novelist Tim Powers’ 1987 historical fantasy novel about a voodoo-wielding Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth, the latest Pirates outing has a few interesting ideas and a few decent sequences, but not enough for me to recommend.
Finally, watch for The Guns of Navarone (1961), a rip-roaring Gregory Peck WWII action-er, new on Blu-ray.
CONTENT ADVISORY: Captain America: Much action violence, frequently fatal and sometimes bloody; a villain committing suicide to avoid capture; hearty drinking; a couple of kisses and mildly suggestive content; limited profanity and some cursing and crude language. Teens and up. The Guns of Navarone: Wartime violence; restrained depiction of torture; mild vulgarities. Might be okay for older kids. Monte Carlo: Mild sensuality; a few mildly rude words. ’Tweens and up. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Intense action violence and menace; some frightening images; partial nudity (nothing explicit), sensuality and recurring innuendo. Teens and up. Winnie the Pooh: A very mildly unsettling imaginary sequence. Fine family viewing.