Family Filmgoer

By Jane Horwitz
Washington Post Writers Group / August 28, 2011

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Kids 9 and older Spy Kids: All the Time in the World 4D (89 min., PG) Kids under 9 may occasionally cringe when our young heroes are inside a huge Armageddon clock and nearly felled by its sharp gears. Younger ones may also get nervous when the kids swoop through the sky by “jet luge.’’ The chatter about time travel and quantum physics may leave kids, and parents, in the dust.

The middle ground Captain America: The First Avenger (124 min., PG-13) Though the movie mixes sci-fi with war-movie action, mayhem is far more comic-book than reality inspired, so shootings and injuries are not portrayed graphically. The villain, Red Skull, is a scary character.

Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (102 min., PG) The movie of the TV characters’ concert tour stays mostly in PG territory, but occasionally veers toward PG-13. One number features leather-and-feather costumes clearly inspired by sadomasochistic chic. Some dance moves, including crotch-grabbing, are quite suggestive.

Life, Above All (100 min., PG-13) Probably too upsetting for middle schoolers, this drama about a 12-year-old girl in South Africa could move and enlighten serious high schoolers unaware of the impact of AIDS on Africa. It is implied that a girl is a prostitute. Although AIDS is not depicted in clinical detail, we see two characters dying of it. The word “whore’’ appears more than once in subtitles.

One Day (107 min., PG-13) Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess enjoy a friendship that becomes a romance. They go skinny-dipping and there is distantly implied nudity. The story includes a couple of impending but nonexplicit sexual situations. Other themes touch on infidelity, alcoholism, and drug use.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (100 min., PG-13) This prequel pushes the PG-13 rating to its limit. There are scenes of violence against animals and humans that are probably too much for some middle schoolers. Such moments occur early in the film in brief sequences, but by the end there is widespread mayhem.

Sarah’s Key (111 min., PG-13) Based on the book by Tatiana de Rosnay, this is the story of a journalist in present-day Paris (Kristin Scott Thomas) who researches the roundup of French Jews during World War II. The flashbacks are graphic and upsetting. A contemporary scene involves Scott Thomas arguing with her husband over whether to have an abortion.

R-rated The Change-Up (112 min., R) Family man Dave (Jason Bateman) and swinging bachelor Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) trade lives. Crude and explicit sexual slang rarely takes a break here, alternating only with gross toilet humor. Mitch smokes a lot of marijuana. This is yet another adult comedy that goes ultra-raunchy to bring in older teens and college-age crowds, then opts for a closing sermon on the beauty of family life, fidelity, and sobriety.

Conan the Barbarian (102 min., R) Jason Momoa takes up the sword in this bone-crushing, head-separating remake of the 1982 film that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. The level of violence makes this film a very hard R, with throat-cuttings, beheadings, slashings, and the sound of bones breaking. There’s a sexual encounter that implies nudity and is fairly explicit. Female slaves are seen topless.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (99 min., R) The key to the R rating is the fact that a child is the chief victim - terrorized and threatened by evil fairies. Some of the violence involves bones breaking, stabbings, and bloody injuries but is not exceptionally graphic. The language and sexual innuendo are mild, too.

Final Destination 5 (92 min., R) The fascination with premature death due to gory freak accidents makes this sequel and all its R-rated predecessors iffy material for anyone under 17, as does the blood-and-guts detail. In 3-D this time, you get to see a steel bar impale someone and punch out their innards, eyeballs pop out and get run over, and a girl break nearly in half during a gymnastics accident.

Fright Night (106 min., R) This remake of the 1985 film about a high school kid who believes he’s living next door to a vampire is a pretty mild R, and the rating is more due to language than violence. The gore is secondary to the comedy, and more stylized than graphic, though there’s still plenty of blood. Vampires are impaled, shot, stabbed, and run over.

Our Idiot Brother (95 min., R) This uneven comedy about a hapless latter-day flower child named Ned (Paul Rudd) is a relatively muted R. The language is strong, with use of the F-word in all its connotations. Aside from references to marijuana use, there is a comically implied sexual situation with nudity.

Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.

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