Ages 10 and older
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away (91 min., PG) Scenes from seven different Cirque du Soleil shows have characters seeming to fall off a huge vertical wall, and daring stunts on trapezes and in whirling cages could make some children nervous about the safety of the performers. Some might giggle at the tight-fitting leotards when contortionists and acrobats do splits.
The middle ground
The Central Park Five (120 min., unrated) The vicious crime that’s discussed, the Central Park Jogger case, and some of the language that’s used make the film too strong for under-16s. It explores the 1989 arrest and eventual conviction of five youths, four African-American and one Latino, in New York City. They were charged with the rape and near-fatal beating of a woman in Central Park. The film briefly shows gruesome photos of the jogger’s face after the attack. Videotapes of the teenagers’ confessions include graphic language about the rape, words often put in their mouths by police detectives heard in the background. The Central Park Five themselves, in present-day interviews, occasionally use profanity.
The Guilt Trip (95 min., PG-13) Mother (Barbra Streisand) and grown son (Seth Rogen) hit the road. Complications ensue. The script includes several uses of strong profanity. Mother and son go into a bar that features pole dancers (no toplessness). They discuss sexual experiences and penises in ways that deeply embarrass Rogen’s character.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (169 min., PG-13) Peter Jackson, having triumphed with his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy returns to Middle-earth to adapt the book that began the whole business. There are two more films to follow. Battle scenes involve beheadings, lopping off of arms, and runnings-through with swords. Little if any blood flows, but the mayhem is definitely PG-13-worthy. Gross humor about smelly behinds and loogies seems worse in 3-D. Andy Serkis’s Gollum, computer-enhanced, bug-eyed, and insane, continues to be a scary screen creation.
Jack Reacher (131 min., PG-13) Tom Cruise plays the title character from the popular Lee Child detective series. Young children are shown in danger. The action sequences feature a number of heavy-duty shoot-outs, including a particularly long and lethal finale, as well as bone-crushing fights. The movie avoids an R rating — barely — by showing little blood or gore. The mayhem also includes the implied shooting off of fingers. The dialogue features occasional midrange profanity and sexual innuendo.
Playing for Keeps (95 min., PG-13) Gerard Butler plays a former soccer star who coaches his 9-year-old son’s soccer team and suffers — or should that be enjoys? — romantic entanglements with the likes of Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Uma Thurman. In addition to implied sexual liaisons and infidelities, adult characters use crude language and mildish profanity. Father and son take a joy ride in a Ferrari and nearly crash it.
Hyde Park on Hudson (94 min., R) Bill Murray plays Franklin Delano Roosevelt. One scene only earns the R rating. FDR and his lover have a sexual encounter in a car, shown mostly from a distance, but strongly and rather graphically implied with movement. The film includes little profanity. There are a few veiled verbal jokes about Mrs. Roosevelt’s friends, whom the president calls “she-men.”
This Is 40 (134 min., R) It’s a marital midlife crisis for Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. This Judd Apatow comedy has very strong profanity and crude sexual slang; an explicit shower sex scene, barely blurred by the shower door; an explicit sexual situation on a security video; other slightly less graphic sexual situations; doctor visits depicting a mammogram (a breast exposed), a gynecological exam, a colonoscopy, and a prostate exam (the last three slightly less graphic); and a woman checking to see if another woman’s breasts are real. Mann’s character verbally abuses and reduces to tears a boy for dissing her daughter online.
Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.