Family Filmgoer

Billy Crystal and Bette Midler in “Parental Guidance.”
Phil Caruso/Twentieth Century Fox/Walden Media via AP
Billy Crystal and Bette Midler in “Parental Guidance.”

Ages 8 and older

Parental Guidance (96 min., PG) Billy Crystal and Bette Midler play grandparents baby-sitting for a week. Too many of the gags involve toilet humor. The script also contains mild sexual innuendo and subtle homophobic humor. Crystal’s character gets slammed in the crotch with a baseball bat and vomits onto the child perpetrator. A child gets bullied (though we only see the aftermath).

The middle ground

Amour (127 min., PG-13) Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva play an elderly couple confronting issues of life, love, and death. One scene involves nudity as Riva’s character is bathed by a visiting nurse. A character smokes. Euthanasia as an issue figures in the story.

Les Misérables (157 min., PG-13) The hit musical comes to the screen. The strongest element that earns the PG-13 rating is the sense of squalor and suffering that the film evokes. Violent clashes between students and soldiers are not graphic, but have a fierceness. Prostitutes in low-cut rags troll the streets and sing crass, suggestive lyrics about their work. A key character jumps off a bridge and we see his body hit.


Mama (106 min., PG-13) Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, of “Game of Thrones,” and Jessica Chastain star in this creepy ghost story. Stains in the walls, like rot, grow larger and release tentacles or noisy moths that portend death. Later scenes of violence — someone pushed by the ghost down the stairs, someone’s neck snapped — are stylized, quick, and not graphic. The film includes occasional profanity and a brief love scene that never becomes explicit.


Django Unchained (165 min., R) Quentin Tarantino reimagines slavery and puts it at the heart of an updated spaghetti western. Several scenes show slaves being whipped and one set upon by dogs. Male slaves are forced to fight each other to the death for the entertainment of whites. This includes the sound of bones breaking. There are explosive, deafening gun battles, great amounts of spattered blood, and bodies ripped open by bullets. The script abounds in racial slurs. A horse is killed in a gunfight. There are strong intimations of rape, and we see a female character briefly naked.

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Gangster Squad (113 min., R) Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone star in this tale of fighting the mob in postwar Los Angeles. The film opens with an attempted rape. Shoot-outs are loud, bloody, and frequent. The violence also includes stabbings and bone-breaking fistfights. A stripper is seen nearly topless. The script is filled with profanity and explicit sexual slang. A few ethnic slurs are also used.

Promised Land (110 min., R) This story about farmers being pressured to sell mineral rights to their land earns its R for occasional strong language; otherwise, it’s OK for viewers 15 and older. A photo of dead cows at a contaminated farm appears several times.

Zero Dark Thirty (157 min., R) A fictional, if highly realistic, look at the search for and killing of Osama bin Laden. Scenes in which CIA operatives use waterboarding and other coercive methods are graphic and disturbing. Other violence includes frightening suicide bombings. Characters use strong profanity. The movie opens in blackness, with recordings of phone calls made by victims trapped in the burning World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.