"Don Jon"

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in one of the most original -- and provocative -- mainstream romantic comedies to come along in years. Gordon-Levitt plays Jon, a seemingly two-dimensional caricature of a blue-collar New Jersey club-hopper focused on women, his car, his buddies and above all, pornography.

An unabashed and voracious consumer of online porn, Jon walks us through why he thinks videos are better than a live partner and how he goes about it. This is not a film for those who blush easily.

Far from being a thinly veiled attempt to appeal to our prurient interests, this is instead a frank look at how porn has desensitized many men to what is required for giving and extracting passion in a real relationship.

The take-away romantic wisdom and the humor are subdued but satisfying. The incessant focus on sex did wear a bit thin and makes this off-limits for teens under 16 years old. (R: sex and language). 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Ratings (out of 4 stars):

Overall: 3 stars

Kids: N /A

Teens: 3½ stars

Adults: 3 stars

Seniors: 2 stars

Should you watch it? Yes -- an inventive, highly sexual, romantic comedy.

"Planes"

When I saw this animated kid flick billed as "From the world of Cars" I assumed Disney was plundering the reputational vault of Pixar and offering up imitation pablum. So with those exceptionally low expectations, I was surprised to find this film was on par with the majority of children's movies released today.


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Dane Cook stars as the voice of Dusty Crophopper, a scrappy farm plane who against all odds manages to qualify for an around-the-world aerial race. Everything you would expect to happen does.

Yes, "Planes" is an unabashed carbon copy of the original "Cars" movie, albeit set in the skies. But that won't bother the kindergarten crowd who loves "Cars" and is happy to have many permutations of the same thing served up. To be sure, this is not a Pixar movie, but a low-key Disney offering that will satisfy your kids nonetheless.

Fine for kids as young as 4. (PG: mild action and rude humor). 1 hour and 31 minutes.

Ratings (out of 4 stars):

Overall: 2½ stars

Kids: 3 stars

Teens: 1½ stars

Adults: 2 stars

Seniors: 2 stars

Should you watch it? Yes -- planes, trains and automobile-obsessed kids will enjoy.

"Turbo"

Here's another race-focused kid cartoon, this one featuring a genetically altered garden snail who dreams of racing in the Indianapolis 500. While more creative than "Planes," "Turbo" follows the same tried-and-true plot line of the little guy going up against adversity to achieve the impossible.

"Turbo" features the voices of skilled actors such as Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña and Samuel L. Jackson, even as it lightly borrows some plot elements from "Talladega Nights." My 10-year-old daughter enjoyed this film, and so will yours. Fine for kids as young as 5. (PG: mild action). 1 hour and 36 minutes.

Ratings (out of 4 stars):

Overall: 2½ stars

Kids: 3 stars

Teens: 2 stars

Adults: 2½ stars

Seniors: 2½ stars

Should you watch it? Yes -- a cute cartoon that will make your kids look differently at snails.

J.B. Alderman lives in Piedmont and can be reached at jason@alderman.net.

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