Kids 6 and older
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (85 min., G) Once again the effervescent rodents are on the loose, this time on a cruise. There are a few (very) slightly scary moments, as well as a barf-bag joke.
Kids 8 and older
Beauty and the Beast 3D (84 min., G) -- The Disney version of the classic fairy tales gets an added dimension. This makes the wolf scenes more intense. The girls in the heroines village are a tad more buxom, and with more decolletage, than if the film were made today. The villain falls to his falls to his (presumed) death. The Beast is wounded.
Kids 10 and older
The Adventures of Tintin (107 min., PG) The intrepid boy reporter from the series of graphic novels makes it to the screen, courtesy of Steven Spielberg. Some of the nonstop action sequences involve gunplay, and a long flashback shows old battleships ablaze and firing cannons. A pickpocket plies his trade very successfully. The athletic Tintin and his dog, Snowy (the real star of the movie) take all kinds of acrobatic risks, unscathed. Their friend Captain Haddock is definitely an alcoholic.
We Bought a Zoo (124 min., PG) Widower Matt Damon has two kids. The house in the country they move into turns out to come with a zoo. : The script includes rare barnyard profanity and mild sexual innuendo, including a slightly steamy kiss. A sick animal must eventually be put down, which happens off-screen. Damon’s son draws disturbing images that reflect his grief and alienation.
Kids 12 and older
Joyful Noise (118 min., PG-13) This comedy about a small Georgia town, which stars Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, includes a couple of barnyard epithets and some mild sexual slang. Two secondary characters have sex out of wedlock.
The middle ground
The Artist (100 min., PG-13) A black-and-white silent movie set in 1920s Hollywood is about a star trying to make the transition to talkies. There’s rare mild profanity (in the written titles), as well as a rude gesture. At one point a fire threatens the star’s life. He also has a scary nightmare and suicidal tendencies.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (129 min., PG-13) Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, this film about the emotional fallout of 9/11 centers on Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), a brilliant, anxiety-plagued 11-year-old who is trying to absorb the fact that his dad Thomas (Tom Hanks) died in the World Trade Center attack. The entire movie explores how children and adults deal with grief. It has images both real and stylized (but not graphic) of burning towers and falling bodies. The script includes occasional crude language and midrange profanity.
The Iron Lady (105 min., PG-13) This biopic about British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stars Meryl Streep. It includes frightening re-enactments of IRA bombings, raucous, occasionally violent anti-Thatcher demonstrations and strikes. There are archival shots of war violence and brief toplessness. A central theme is the elderly Thatcher’s slow descent into dementia.
Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol (133 min., PG-13) Tom Cruise leads his crew all over the place, from Budapest to Moscow to Dubai to Mumbai, in this fourth installment in the adventure-espionage series. Punches land with great, cracking thuds, and explosions and car chases could shatter eardrums. The dialogue includes rare mild profanity. The only sexual innuendo is a couple of low-cut dresses.
Red Tails (125 min., PG-13) Teens will absorb a slice of history about World War II and the pre-civil rights era in this action picture. Though fictionalized, “Red Tails” is based on the fabled Tuskegee Airmen -- African-American pilots who protected WWII bomber squadrons during missions over Europe. Aerial dogfights have injuries and crashes but are not overly graphic. The script includes rare midrange profanity, racial slurs -- including a use of the N-word -- and crude language.
War Horse (146 min., PG-13) Based on Michael Morpurgo’s young adult novel (a Tony Award-winning stage adaptation is currently on Broadway), this World War I story directed by Steven Spielberg has battlefield scenes that are extremely intense. They push the PG-13 envelope hard with shattering artillery fire; charges on horseback; trench warfare; images of men and horses dead; the deathly silence of a poison gas attack; a horse trapped and struggling in barbed wire. We see dead and injured men and horses, but not a lot of blood.
Carnage (79 min., R) This adaptation of the successful stage play about two married couples in collision, “Gods of Carnage,” includes strong profanity and gross toilet humor.
Contraband (109 min., R) Most high-schoolers 15 and older will be able to handle this action flick, which earns its R more for language than gore. Mark Wahlberg plays an ex-smuggler who’s pulled back into the crime world when his wife’s inept kid brother botches a smuggling job and needs help covering the debt to a violent dealer. The script warrants an R for strong profanity, an instance of crudely misogynist sexual slang, and the depiction of children’s lives threatened by criminals.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (152 min., R) The international best-selling novel comes to the screen. Two scenes of sexual assault and exploitation -- one a vile and humiliating act, the other a brutal rape -- make the film inappropriate for anyone under 20 or so. The plot focuses on a serial killer who tortures victims first. There are a couple of explicit consensual sexual situations with nudity. Other violence involves gunplay, car and motorbike chases and crashes, and a big explosion.
In the Land of Blood and Honey (127 min., R) Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut tackles the 1990s Bosnian civil war. Necessarily, it depicts rape; shootings of non-combatants; Nazi-style round-ups for “ethnic cleansing.” Other mayhem includes bombings, point-blank shootings, and the implied death of an infant thrown from a window. Consensual sexual situations, as well as the rapes, are portrayed with explicitness and female nudity. The subtitles include strong profanity.
Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.