The middle ground
Battleship (131 min., PG-13) “Transformers” goes to sea in this action film based on the board game of the same name. Almost no graphic injuries are depicted, though it’s clear people get killed. The only moments that might be too upsetting for middle schoolers are in a rehab center where real veteran amputees with exposed stumps and scars are seen learning to use prosthetic limbs. The film includes occasional strong, partially muffled profanity and mild sexual innuendo. There’s brief implied nudity.
Bernie (104 min., PG-13) A small-town Texas mortician (Jack Black) murders an elderly widow (Shirley MacLaine). The film is OK for many middle schoolers, but its secondary themes dealing with whispered homophobia may be a little too mature for them. The murder isn’t graphic or bloody. The script includes occasional strong language and mild homophobic slurs.
Dark Shadows (113 min., PG-13) There’s not much that’s inappropriate for teens in this Tim Burton-directed version of the old vampire-theme TV soap opera. Most of the mayhem isn’t especially gross or graphic. The finale grows more violent, with one character morphing into a werewolf and another cracking and disintegrating before our eyes. The sexual innuendo gets R-ish in one scene with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, implying oral sex.
First Position (90 min., unrated) In this documentary about teen and preteen ballet dancers, the young dancers’ overworked feet are often bloody and have bumps and bunions normally seen on older people. Some sustain injuries that take them out of competition. They are shown doing painful, even dangerous-looking stretches to increase flexibility. One mother may trouble moviegoers with the way she pushes her two kids to dance and underfeeds them to keep them thin.
Men in Black 3 (106 min., PG-13) Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, joined by Josh Brolin, are back battling extraterrestrials. When one of the aliens escapes from prison, his murders are not bloody, but quite graphic for a PG-13. The film includes mild sexual innuendo. When the escaped alien kisses his accomplice, he sends his tongue down her throat. The dialogue includes occasional midrange profanity.
What to Expect When You’re
Expecting (110 min., PG-13) Many characters and multiple stories interact in this film based on the best-selling pregnancy manual. The dialogue features crass language dealing with bodily functions, midrange profanity, and sexual innuendo that is steamy enough to put the film in R-ish territory at times. Two birth scenes are verbally, but not visually, graphic. The script includes graphic talk about the discomforts of pregnancy, from flatulence to bladder control.
Where Do We Go Now? (110 min., PG-13) The women of a Middle Eastern village populated by both Muslims and Christians find a way to avoid sectarian violence. Characters engage in scuffles and fights. The women use hashish and tranquilizers baked into sweets to sedate the men. The story includes mild, romanticized sexual innuendo.
The Dictator (88 min., R) Sacha Baron Cohen strikes again. Where to start? His Middle Eastern strongman character, Aladeen, helps to deliver a baby, a scene consisting mostly of gross verbal humor. The dialogue bristles with crude sexual references, and a masturbation joke involves movement, but is not explicitly graphic. The language is also profane. Gun violence is frequent but not lethal. While in power, Aladeen orders many executions, but we don’t see them happen.