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Teen girls will like 'Lucky One'

"The Lucky One" (PG-13): Teen girls (and their moms) are the target audience for this romantic drama, based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks, and they're going to like it just fine. Scenes depicting violence in the Iraq War, threats by a jealous ex-husband, and strongly implied sexual situations make the film iffy for preteens. Not as icky-sentimental as you might expect, this movie benefits from Zac Efron's strong performance as former Marine Logan Thibault, and from an equally vivid supporting cast, as well as rich atmospherics and a kennel full of great dogs. Logan, we learn in a prologue and in flashbacks, survived several brushes with death in Iraq and believes the photo of an unknown woman he found in a pile of rubble somehow saved him. He eventually traces the photo to Beth (Taylor Schilling), a divorcee who runs a kennel in Louisiana and lives with her adorable, gifted 7-going-on-8-year-old son Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart) and her salty grandmother (Bythe Danner). Recovering from PTSD, Logan leaves his sister's home because he nearly reacts with violence when her sons surprise him one morning. He walks hundreds of miles as therapy, and also to reach Beth and thank her for his survival. But he can't bring himself to tell her why he's there. Instead, he hires on to work in the kennel, befriends little Ben, charms Beth's grandmother and falls for Beth (the photo belonged to her brother, who died in Iraq).

Scenes showing Logan in Iraq, caught in ambushes and explosions, are not graphic, but are intense and show dead soldiers. The film includes a couple of strongly implied sexual situations, which are not explicit, but are erotic, and involve removal of outer clothing and bare derrieres. Characters use occasional barnyard epithets, drink beer and wine, and, in the case of Beth's ex, get drunk and belligerent.


"Chimpanzee" (G): "Chimpanzee" is fine for kids 10 and older and OK for many between 8 and 10, depending upon how deeply they identify with films showing real animals at risk. Parents of little ones, do not let the G rating assigned to this Disneynature wildlife documentary mislead you. It should be rated PG. There is no graphic animal-on-animal violence shown, but the tension and foreboding in the voice-over narration (read by Tim Allen), and the nerve-jangling camera work showing one group of chimpanzees chased by a rival group, or hunting small monkeys for food, are quite unsettling. Filmmakers Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield and their crew got terrific footage of a chimpanzee group living in a jungle known as the Tai Forest in the Republic of Ivory Coast. They focused especially on an adorable baby chimp they named Oscar and his mother Isha, showing droll, touching scenes of Oscar learning how to crack tree nuts for food, and being groomed and protected. The documentary nearly fell apart when the chimpanzees were attacked by a rival group of chimps in a territorial move. The narration ludicrously portrays the rival group as "thugs" led by an evil chimp named Scar.

None of the violence referred to so grimly in the narration is shown on film. It is strongly hinted at with jittery camera work and footage of chimpanzees fleeing through trees and shrieking, or drumming on tree trunks in battle mode.