Ages 8 and up
Hotel Transylvania (90 min., PG) An animated feature about a hostelry built by Dracula. Its clientele are monsters. Kids under 8 may flinch at seeing vampires turn into bats, and to see the likes of Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy, and the Fly, as well as blobs, skeletons, shrunken heads, and more. Some of the monsters lose heads or limbs while roughhousing and then reattach them. There are jokes about drinking blood. Though he’s sworn off violence, Dracula has a temper, and his face goes scarily red while he seethes.
Frankenweenie (87 min., PG) This dark stop-motion animated 3-D feature from Tim Burton will likely petrify under-10s, even as this tale about a sad boy who brings his dead dog back to life transfixes older kids. With an unusual film like this, parents really need to think about what their children can handle on a big screen and in 3-D. When the dead animals are transformed, they emerge as monsters and terrorize the town. Adults react like a mob. No one is shown being hurt or killed, but the atmosphere is definitely old-style horror.
Ages 10 and up
Here Comes the Boom (105 min., PG) Kevin James is a high school biology teacher who enters the mixed martial arts ring to raise money for the school. The fight scenes feature major mayhem, and some of it looks painful. There’s an episode of projectile vomiting. The script includes mildly crude language and mild sexual innuendo.
The middle ground
Taken 2 (97 min., PG-13) In the original, it was former agent Liam Neeson’s daughter (Maggie Grace) who was kidnapped. Now it’s the turn of Neeson and ex-his wife (Famke Janssen). The mayhem features much plaster-shattering gunplay, but with little blood. Neeson’s character kills several people with his bare hands, and the fights are intense. The dialogue includes occasional mild profanity (the S-word in particular). There are references to sex slavery.
Argo (120 min., R) Ben Affleck directed and stars in this based-on-fact story of how the CIA rescued six US hostages from Iran in 1980. There’s strong profanity throughout. One scene shows revolutionaries shooting a man in the street. Scenes depicting mobs and armed revolutionary guards bristle with tension. Real and reenacted footage of the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran is upsetting to watch.
Seven Psychopaths (109 min., R) Martin McDonagh wrote and directed this very funny — and very gory — criminal farce. The film is full of bloody, up-close gun and knife violence. A reenactment of a Vietnam War-era incident, in which a Buddhist monk sets himself on fire as a protest, is used. In addition to steaming profanity, characters use racial and ethnic slurs, including the N-word. The film includes a brief, semi-explicit sexual situation and brief drug use.Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.