Going Out Guide family movie reviews
By Jane Horwitz,
8 and older
Puss in Boots (PG). Kids 8 and older are likely to get the jokes and handle the action sequences in “Puss in Boots” without getting scared. The film is often funny, but it also feels rather adult. There’s much mild innuendo about Puss’s amorous exploits, which under-8s might not get. We learn in a long flashback how Puss was an abandoned kitten and how he and the young Humpty Dumpty became brothers. There was a falling-out, and Puss became, well, a cat burglar. He’s unexpectedly reunited with Humpty and also meets Kitty Softpaws. They pull Puss into their plot to steal “magic beans” from a crass middle-aged couple, Jack and Jill. When they get the beans, plant them and follow the stalk into the clouds, they encounter the goose that lays the golden eggs.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The action sequences could unsettle kids younger than 8. There are sword fights and precarious chases in which characters fall into abysses. The goose that lays the golden eggs is a giant and could scare them, too. There are jokes about catnip that allude to marijuana.
Tower Heist. “Tower Heist” will make high-schoolers laugh but also help them focus on the human aspect of the hard economic times we live in. Josh is the manager of a Manhattan residential high-rise called the Tower, populated by millionaires and billionaires, pampered by a staff of blue-collar workers. The penthouse dweller is Arthur Shaw, who is suddenly arrested. The lead agent tells Josh that Shaw has decimated the pension fund for all the workers in the building, including Josh. Convinced that the Madoff-style crook has at least $20 million hidden in his apartment, Josh organizes a complicated heist. He enlists several of the workers in the building and a former resident who’s gone bankrupt. Then he gets a petty criminal from his neighborhood to school them on how to break and enter.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The profanity, sexual slang and discussion of sex organs is crass enough to push the envelope toward an R rating, making the film more appropriate for high-schoolers. Some of the stunts, with characters dangling off the side of a Manhattan high-rise are actually quite realistic. There is a bit of nonlethal gunplay and some drinking and drunkenness.
In Time. This science-fiction saga is fine for most teens. It has a pretty profound premise, but teens might get bored, despite the presence of Justin Timberlake. Will, our occasional narrator, tells us that in the future, people are born with built-in time codes. After 25 years, they cease to age and their built-in clocks start counting down a final year. Time is literally used as money: to buy food or pay rent or just to stay alive. When Will acquires a century from a rich man who longs to die, he crashes a rich enclave where he meets a billionaire and his daughter. Will decides to buck the system and is hotly pursued by a cop called a Time Keeper.
The bottom line: Violence is generally quite muted. Gunplay results in little on-screen blood, and when characters “time out,” they just sort of lurch backward and crumple. There is implied toplessness and skinny-dipping that shows no nudity.
Anonymous. High-schoolers with a taste for history and theater might be thrilled by “Anonymous,” a pop-culture salvo in the long-running debate over who wrote Shakespeare’s plays. The movie posits that Shakespeare was an actor who lent his name to Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, a gifted aristocrat who wanted his plays performed anonymously for political and artistic reasons. Unfortunately, teens who know little of Shakespeare might come away thinking this movie is accurate, when in fact many scholars will scoff at it.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Characters drink heavily and brawl. Protesting citizens are fired upon and killed by guards, and there is a strongly implied beheading. Themes involve incest, infidelity and out-of-wedlock births. The film includes a couple of steamy sexual situations that venture near R territory.
The Three Musketeers. Teens who get a charge out of costume dramas and others who love action movies could enjoy this latest “The Three Musketeers.” It tries too hard to be palatable to teens. We meet the Three Musketeers on a mission to steal the blueprints for a ship designed by Leonardo da Vinci. They are betrayed by a double agent, become cynical and quit. Into their Parisian retirement bursts the young peasant d’Artagnan, an expert swordsman intent on becoming a Musketeer. He shames the older men into taking up arms.
The bottom line: Despite the athletic brawls, we see very little gore. Ladies’ bodices are very low-cut, and the film includes much mild sexual innuendo. Characters drink a lot, and the script includes occasional mild profanity.
The Rum Diary. This is the flick for college students fascinated with American culture as it marinated into the counterculture of the 1960s. Johnny Depp plays journalist Paul Kemp in this adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel. Kemp is a talented writer with an unquenchable thirst for booze who works for a seedy English-language rag in Puerto Rico, circa 1959. He befriends an arrogant Yankee businessman, who offers him a job. Eventually he sees how corrupt the guy is, and this becomes the story of a hack writer’s awakening.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Characters continually drink to excess; they also take psychedelic drugs. There is much sexual innuendo, but only a couple of sexual situations, neither of them very explicit for an R-rated film.
Horwitz is a freelance writer.