Friday, March 11, 2022

'Red' and 'Adam': Dealing (and streaming) with young growing pains

A girl and boy meet significantly different versions of themselves in a pair of so-so vehicles likely most perfectly geared to young adults.

In the animated "Turning Red," now streaming exclusively on Disney+, 13-year-old Mei Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) has an amazing discovery while learning the ins and outs of becoming a woman, including a few things that may bring questions from younger viewers.

Regardless, except for a monstrously silly climax in Toronto's SkyDome (today called the Rogers Centre), the story of Mei's relationship with a caring if uptight mom (the ever-fab Sandra Oh) almost brings more pivotal dismay than the fact that the daughter turns into a giant red panda when feeling stressed (read: angry). Naturally, mighty Mei's trio of best friends help their girl get through it all, and so does a boy-band named "4*Town," whose hugely popular style of music back in the day apparently is why the film plays best in 2002.

As always, Pixar animation keeps us nicely intrigued, mostly with images and neighorborhoods from Canada's largest city precisely captured throughout. Truth be told, though, a dearth of real gotcha moments might be why "Red" hasn't been chosen to color any theater screens or, most importantly, attempt to fill their seats.  

Rated "PG" by MPAA: thematic material, suggestive material and language; 1:39; $ $ $ out of $5

Speaking of creative ways to show off anger management, the kid in "The Adam Project" (a sci-fi adventure now playing on Netflix) risks life and limb tooling around with his older self. 

That's because young newcomer Walker Scobell, as the tough and irritating little middle-schooler already suspended three times for fighting, grows up to become Ryan Reynolds, whose "44-year-old" persona revisits from the future and just happens to sorta crash-land in the woods behind where Young Adam lives with his widowed and worried Mom (Jennifer Garner).

Now, according to Big Adam, Earth 2050 looks something like "The Terminator" movies on a bad day, so he's not really returning to help his younger self. Uh-uh.

He claims to be searching for his "late" wife (Zoe Saldana) for some reason in the year 2018. And, so what if he misses by four years. Hey, it all gets explained -- I think -- with Adam's also dead Dad (Mark Ruffalo), a physicist whose special expertise is in time travel, getting involved, too.

So do Catherine Keener, references to Guy Lombardo (look him up), one "magnetic" scene right out of the original "Journey to the Center of the Earth," and a "Field of Dreams" moment tweaked just in time for settlement of the MLB strike.

Rated "PG-13" by MPAA: violence/action, language and suggestive references; 1:46; $ $ and 1/2 out of $5  

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