Ages 8 and older
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (94 min., PG) The third go-round in the series based on the popular children’s books. A scene in a pool involves a lot of toilet humor — kids peeing in the pool or holding up icky diapers. A locker-room scene right before that shows a kid horrified at the sight of men with hairy backs or bending over in swimsuits and showing a little derriere cleavage. Later, a child pretends to be drowning and is rescued by a man who gives him mouth-to-mouth. The scene is played as farce, but it and the locker-room scenes have a weird, homophobic vibe that seems tasteless and unnecessary.
The middle ground
The Bourne Legacy (134 min., PG-13) Jeremy Renner isn’t named Bourne, but like Matt Damon’s character in the three previous Bourne movies he’s a CIA assassin on the run. The mayhem features drone attacks, explosions, gun battles, and bone-cracking hand-to-hand combat, as well as occasional midrange profanity. A man’s multiple murder of his co-workers in a pharmaceutical lab is very unsettling, given real-life news these days.
Hope Springs (100 min., PG-13) Long-married couple Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones seek marriage counseling from Steve Carell. The film includes several quite explicit (for a PG-13) sexual situations, as the couple try to renew their relationship. There is no nudity, but some of the sex scenes feel quite intimate and real compared to other films. Sexual acts are discussed fairly graphically in the counseling sessions. There is also occasional profanity.
Step Up Revolution (97 min., PG-13) From the first shot of young women’s derrieres in string bikinis, it’s clear that the PG-13 envelope will be getting pushed in terms of sexuality in dress and dance. So the film is problematic for middle schoolers whose parents worry about the hyper-sexualization of pop culture. The choreography involves a lot of heavily sexual moves. The actual plot treads lightly as regards such matters. The script includes rare mild profanity and crude language.
Total Recall (109 min., PG-13) This remake of the 1990 sci-fi movie about manufactured memories may be too relentlessly intense for middle schoolers. The fights are bone-crushing, the chases more cool than scary, with futuristic vehicles zooming along elevated highways. There is little actual gore, but the hero bloodily uses a glass shard to cut an under-the-skin cellphone/global positioning device out of his hand. Early on, there is understated sexuality. In a red light district, we see prostitutes in suggestive clothes and one who bares her triple-breasted chest. The script includes midrange profanity.
The Campaign (85 min., R) Profanity, graphic sexual situations, ethnic stereotyping, and general meanness pervade this satire of contemporary politics. A baby is accidentally punched in the face — in a slow-motion close-up. A dog comes in for the same treatment. This is obviously fake, but some people won’t be amused.
Ruby Sparks (104 min., R) The rating for this update of the classic Pygmalion tale is mostly the result of language. Blocked writer Paul Dano imagines a character (Zoe Kazan) whom he falls in love with when she comes to life. Characters use very strong profanity and crude sexual language. They also smoke pot and make verbal drug references. One scene where Dano very overtly manipulates Kazan’s feelings might disturb younger viewers.
The Watch (95 min., R) This comedy about neighborhood vigilantes on the lookout for extraterrestrials has queasy-making echoes of the Trayvon Martin case. The dialogue bristles with profanity and graphic sexual slang. A secondary character has an orgy in his basement, with graphically implied sexual situations and toplessness. A teenage make-out scene involves a girl having to fight off a boy. The invaders (humanoid/lizard hybrids, with razor teeth) impale victims on pincerlike arms. The dead are all minus their innards and skin.