Reel Rating: 5 out of 5 Reels

MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, some sexual content, drug use and violent war images
Released in Theaters: March 4, 2016
Best for Ages: 17+
Genre: Drama, Comedy, War
Runtime: 111 minutes
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Studio: Paramount
Cast: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman

MOVIE SYNOPSIS: Based on journalist Kim Barker's memoir, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, this dramedy chronicles her journey from cubicle worker to war reporter.

MOVIE REVIEW: If you think Tina Fey is only about being funny, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot will make you see her in a different light. She's naturally funny, of course, but she can also play drama. I think this movie is a game-changer for her in terms of her comedic brand.
Here Fey stars as Kim Baker, a bored TV news writer who jumps at the chance to become a war reporter in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s. Yes, her name in the movie is Kim BAKER, even though the real-life person is named Kim BARKER. I understand why Fey changed the name, because much of the film is fictional. Still, it bugs me.

The story follows Kim's journey from a safe newsroom cubicle to dangerous war-torn Afghanistan and Pakistan. Baker is a fish out of water at first, but soon finds her place with other war reporters, including gorgeous Tanya Vanderpoel (Margo Robbie) and self-centered Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman).
Baker navigates her way in this new world, from military "embeds" (where she goes into the field with the soldiers) to butting heads with hard-core General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton). Along the way, she encounters violence, poverty, and terror. She and the other reporters de-stress by drinking, doing drugs, and engaging in casual sex.

As a writer, movies about other writers are always fascinating to me. I love that Whiskey Tango Foxtrot shows us all sides of life as a war reporter. It's not just about breaking scoops and feeling the adrenaline rush. It's also about the chaotic life of soldiers and reporters during very dangerous situations. Being a woman in a male-dominated world adds an extra challenge for Baker. Not just the U.S. military, but also being in a country where women are seen as second-class citizens and clothed from head to toe.

But it's not all drama. I would think having a sense of humor in a war zone would be a necessity, and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot excels at showing both the dark and lighter sides. And Tina Fey is terrific.
PARENT OVERVIEW: The R-rating for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is spot-on. The movie takes an unflinching look at life in a war zone, where bombings, gunfire, political instability, and violence are a way of life. War reporters cope with life by drinking, doing drugs, and engaging in casual sex. Language includes lots of f-bombs and more.

PARENT DETAILS (May Contain Spoilers):
Violence/Gore: War violence includes exploding landmines, mortar shells, dismembered people, gunfire, and tense demonstrations in the street. Baker reckless
ly puts herself in dangerous situations, like following a soldier during gunfire and filming it at the same time. A main character is kidnapped by terrorists and held in a dank building.
Sex/Nudity: Lots of kissing, groping, and implied sex. Brief glimpses of porn on a computer screen. Nudity includes bare shoulders under a sheet. References to war reporters needing to de-stress with sex.
Profanity: Frequent language includes "f--k," "c--t," "ass," "bulls--t," "p---y," and more.
Drugs/Alcohol: Characters smoke with hookahs, drink alcohol, and do other drugs to cope with the stress. A few scenes of partiers doing cocaine and drinking.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.
MOVIE REVIEW: ZOOTOPIA

Reel Rating: 5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements, rude humor and action
Released in Theaters: March 4, 2016 (2D, 3D, IMAX 3D)
Best for Ages: 6+
Genre: Family, Animation
Runtime: 108 minutes
Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Studio: Disney
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Jenny Slate, Idris Elba

MOVIE SYNOPSIS: This fast-paced animated Disney film takes place in the world of Zootopia, where animals live peacefully together. But that may change when a young bunny starts her first job as a new cop.

MOVIE REVIEW: Oh.My.Gosh. Zootopia is super cute. It's the kind of family movie where I started texting and Facebooking people to go see it on my way out of the theater. I told my 18-year-old daughter and 21-year-old son to go see it. Not sure about the son, but the daughter said she'd go see it with me - because I want to see it again! I saw the 2D version, but it's also available in 3D and IMAX 3D. So I'll definitely be seeing one of those versions.
The story takes place in the modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia. The city includes various climate-themed neighborhoods, like frozen Tundratown and glitzy Sahara Square. Zootopia is basically a melting pot where animals from every environment live together peacefully, because they've evolved beyond prey and predator tendencies.

Young bunny Judy Hopps has been dreaming her whole life of moving off the carrot farm on the outskirts of town and becoming a cop. So she goes through the rigorous training, gets that coveted badge, and moves to Zootopia for her very first job as a cop with the Zootopia Police Department.
The optimistic bunny soon learns that being the first bunny on a police force with big, tough animals isn't easy. In fact, she's passed over for a big missing persons case and assigned the job of meter maid. But the opportunity to crack the missing persons case presents itself, and Judy promises a worried otter that she'll find her missing husband.

With only 48 hours to crack the case if she wants to keep her badge -- Police Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) is a tough water buffalo boss -- Judy realizes her best bet is to enlist fast-talking, scam-artist fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to help her.

Zootopia is one of those rare family movies that appeals to all ages. Kids will love the cute characters, bright colors, and fast action. Grownups will love the great dialogue, fun storyline and sly humor (there's even a Breaking Bad reference). It's a whodunit mystery, a buddy-cop movie, and a fish-out-of-water tale with important social commentary about living and working together.
Judy and Nick's snappy banter reminds me of an old screwball comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. The plot twists are reminiscent of old-time noir films where you're never quite sure where things are headed.

The voice casting is spot-on, from Goodwin's energetic Judy, Bateman's cynical Nick and Elba's brusque Bogo, to Tommy Chong's “naturalist” life coach yak, Shakira's pop star Gazelle, and Maurice LaMarche's tuxedoed crime boss Mr. Big.
Zootopia delivers a great message for both kids and adults: Be who you want to be and follow your heart. Even if that means being a very small bunny on a tough police force.

PARENT OVERVIEW: Zootopia includes chase scenes, jump-scare predator attacks, an explosive crash, and references to mob activity, kidnapping, torture, and bullying. Language includes insults like "stupid," "jerk," "dumb," "butt," etc. A pop star gazelle wears sexy, form-fitting clothes. Most of the grownup jokes will go over kids' heads, including references to The Godfather, the DMV, and Breaking Bad. The story features great messages about teamwork, tolerance, courage, empathy, and working hard to achieve your dreams.

PARENT DETAILS (May Contain Spoilers):
Violence/Gore: Several scenes of peril and danger, including chases, fighting, dart guns, and intimidating large animals. Predator animals go savage and try to attack other animals. A “wild” animal is held captive in a cell and scares Nick and Judy. In one scene, it appears that an animal has turned on his friend. A few tense moments in dark places as Nick and Judy investigate a missing mammal case. A mobster kidnaps Nick and Judy and threatens to “ice” them (throw them into frozen water). A young fox bullies a young bunny, shoving her, and clawing her across the cheek.
Sex/Nudity: A pop star gazelle wears sexy, form-fitting clothes and dances suggestively with her tiger back-up dancers. A “naturalist” club features nude animals communing together (Judy is shocked, but viewers just see animals like we usually see them).
Profanity: Insults like "dumb" "jerk," "loser," "stupid," "moron," "butt," "shut up" and "oh my God."
Drugs/Alcohol: None.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Boursaw is the film critic and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Contact her at jboursaw@charter.net. Images in this review used courtesy of the studio and distributor.