Family Filmgoer: March 17

Above: Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst in “Upside Down.” Below (from left): Tommy Lee Jones and Isao Natsuyagi in “Emperor”; Nicholas Hoult in “Jack the Giant Slayer.”
Millennium Entertainment
Above: Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst in “Upside Down.” Below (from left): Tommy Lee Jones and Isao Natsuyagi in “Emperor”; Nicholas Hoult in “Jack the Giant Slayer.”

Ages 10 and older

Oz the Great and Powerful (130 min., PG) A prequel to “The Wizard of Oz.” There are plenty of scary moments and images, especially in 3-D, that could give kids under 10 at least temporary shivers. The flying ape-like minions who work for the wicked witch are nasty-looking in close-up. And the laser-like battles between the bad witches, on one side, and Glinda, the people of Oz, and their new “wizard” on the other, get loud and showily destructive. Even the little China Girl, weeping in her demolished porcelain home, has the look and surroundings of a war refugee. Early in the film, the tornado is nightmarish.

The middle ground

Emperor (106 min., PG-13) In this based-on-fact story set in Tokyo right after the end of World War II, Tommy Lee Jones plays General Douglas MacArthur. He tasks an aide (Matthew Fox) with determining how involved Emperor Hirohito was in planning to go to war. The depiction of a bomb-ravaged Tokyo is highly evocative — a wasteland with starving inhabitants scavenging in the ruins. There is a brief flashback sequence of war violence with bayonet stabbings. The dialogue includes rare mild profanity.

The Gatekeepers (95 min., PG-13) An Oscar-nominated documentary about former heads of Israel’s domestic security agency. The film shows very graphic photos and video clips of an Israeli bus blown up in an act of terror, with dead passengers amid crushed metal. Footage of Palestinians being questioned and their houses entered by Israeli soldiers is disturbing, as are photos of two captured Palestinians arrested for hijacking a bus, who were allegedly beaten to death in custody.


The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (101 min., PG-13) Fighting and feuding among magicians in Las Vegas. They include Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey. Some of their crazy stunts involve bedding down on hot coals, holding in urine for days, drilling a hole into a skull, and seeming to crush a puppy (it’s not hurt). The script contains midrange profanity, including, briefly, the F-word and the B-word, plus a lot of sexual innuendo. One major trick involves the use of an illegal drug.

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Jack the Giant Slayer (114 min., PG-13) An update of the fairy tale. The giants are gross — filthy and ill-mannered, with disgusting habits involving nose-picking and worse. The action sequences feature stabbings and bone-crushing fights. It is strongly implied that the giants eat victims alive, though the munchings are not depicted in a graphic manner. The giants’ caves are lined with human bones. Many men fall to their deaths off the beanstalk, as does a giant or two later in the film.

The Last Exorcism Part II (88 min., PG-13) This sequel pushes its PG-13 rating to the limit, with violence and sexual content. Most of the killings are just strongly implied, with disturbing sounds and the sight of blood spattering against a window. Still, such scenes are harrowing. And we see a throat being slit. Lightning flashbacks also show violence and what could be a dead human fetus. The film includes scenes of the heroine highly sexually aroused in her sleep; and also at work. as she listens to a couple making love next door.

Upside Down (108 min., PG-13) Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst play lovers on planets so close they almost touch. But their romance is complicated by the fact that gravity on each planet is the reverse of the other — and there’s near-complete political separation between them. The scenes of violence are not gory or graphic. But a climactic scene, showing the lovers pursued by police who shoot at them with intent to kill, is somewhat intense. The script includes occasional mild profanity.


21 and Over (93 min., R) Three college buddies live it up one night. Aside from nonstop profanity, use of the B-word, and very explicit sexual slang, the dialogue is replete with ethnic stereotype jokes, and even one about leukemia. Students are depicted smoking pot and binge-drinking and, at least once, projectile vomiting. Someone talks about tripping on LSD. Girls bare their breasts. The mayhem includes nonlethal gunfire and reckless drunk driving. Serious undertones emerge in talk of an attempted suicide and implications that a character’s father may have beat him.


The Call (90 min., R) A 911 operator (Halle Berry) feels she may have contributed to a teenage girl’s murder. The film becomes semigraphic and creepily psychosexual once we meet the killer up close, so it’s too much for under-17s. We see him drug and hit another teen as he shoves her into his trunk, and we see him bash a man’s head with a shovel and later stab him. He sprays gasoline onto a gas station attendant and sets him on fire. He cuts into a girl’s scalp with a surgical knife. A strong incest theme in his past is implied in photographs and in his actions. Characters use rare but strong profanity.

Dead Man Down (118 min., R) Colin Farrell is a hit man, Noomi Rapace is his facially disfigured neighbor. Violent and morally complex, this film is truly for 17 and older. It features much intense gun violence, with point-blank shootings, though less blood and guts than is typically R-ish. The mayhem also includes strangulations, beatings, and one unfortunate who is set upon by sewer rats. The film contains a steamy sexual situation interrupted by violence. The script includes occasional strong profanity.

Phantom (97 min., R) This Cold War thriller set on a Soviet submarine includes instances of lethal gun violence, including a suicide, and a graphic throat-slitting. The atmosphere aboard the sub feels claustrophobic. The dialogue includes little profanity.

Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.