Ages 8 and up
Wreck-It Ralph (93 min., PG) Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) is a villain in an arcade game called “Fix-it Felix Jr.” But he’d rather be a good guy for a change, so he sneaks into another game. The level of mayhem and violence, even though much of it takes place in a virtual game environment made of candy, gets pretty intense in the last third of the film: chases, explosions, and one seemingly benign character turns evil.
Ages 12 and up
Brooklyn Castle (101 min., PG) A documentary about the highly successful chess team at a New York public middle school. The emotional tension leading up to big tournaments and tears after a player loses are very real and may elicit similar reactions from empathetic children watching this film.
The middle ground
Lincoln (150 min., PG-13) Daniel Day-Lewis plays the title role in Steven Spielberg’s biopic. Three scenes could make “Lincoln” problematic for middle-schoolers: One shows soldiers fighting intensely but nongraphically with bayonets; another shows Lincoln riding through a battlefield seeing endless bodies, at least one graphically gutted.
Skyfall (145 min., PG-13) As you may have heard, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is back. Amid the gunplay, including nongraphic murders, explosions, high-speed chases, crashes, fist- and knife fights, there is little that is graphic or bloody, though the action is intense. The script includes occasional profanity, crude language, and frisky but mild verbal sexual innuendo. A shower scene with a beauty Bond encounters on his travels hints at nudity, but is nonexplicit.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 (116 min., PG-13) The series concludes. Battle scenes among vampires, while bloodless, show heads torn off some bodies set ablaze. The sexual charge between Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) reaches new highs, though the one sex scene is stylized and not explicit.
Anna Karenina (130 min., R) Keira Knightley stars in the title role in the latest movie adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel. A character commits suicide (as you likely know). Love scenes are passionate and steamy, but never quite explicit. A horse is hurt during a race and has to be shot.
Flight (138 min., R) Not for under-17s, as it depicts serious drug and alcohol abuse. Denzel Washington acts up a storm as a brilliant commercial pilot who navigates a successful crash landing but falls from grace after it’s revealed that he was under the influence. Includes female nudity and nonexplicit sexual situations.
Silver Linings Playbook (122 min., R) A romantic comedy, adapted from Matthew Quick’s novel. The script bristles with profanity and includes a rude hand gesture. In one scene, strangers hurl ethnic slurs. The film shows brief toplessness and a strongly implied but nonexplicit shower sex scene.
Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.