Dec. 30 film picks

Martin Freeman (left) and Ian McKellen in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
Todd Eyre/Warner Brothers Pictures and MGM
Martin Freeman (left) and Ian McKellen in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Ages 7 and older

Monsters, Inc. 3D (95 min., G) The Pixar animated feature, first released in 2001, was conceived as a comedy with lots of scary bits defused by laughter. It still is, but in 3-D, some of the monsters and the chase scenes — especially the climactic one where the heroes are dangling from assembly-line doors — will seem more intense to kids under 7, especially to very little ones. It’s just different when it looks like a bad-guy monster is in the room with you.

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

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 the F- and the S-words. 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 PG-13-worthy. Gross humor about smelly behinds and loogies seems worse in 3-D. Andy Serkis’s Gollum 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.
Les Miserables (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.


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.
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.

This Is 40

Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.