BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 3D. Disney has digitally remastered its lovely 1991 animated musical classic in
3-D, and it remains a delight. But parents of kids younger than 8 should note that the wolves that surround Belle’s father in the forest, and that later threaten her, are even more frightening in 3-D. In 1991, this was a groundbreaking film because it mixed hand-drawn animation with backgrounds created using computers. The result is still stunning, and the songs still great.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Aside from the more intense 3-D scenes with the wolves, other elements that catch one’s attention two-plus decades later: The girls in Belle’s village are a tad more buxom than they’d probably be today. The big fight shows Gaston falling to his (presumable) death. The Beast is wounded.
We Bought a Zoo. Certainly the most family-friendly and mildest movie of the season, “We Bought a Zoo” offers kids 10 and older and their parents a heartwarming story, good acting and cool critters. The movie follows single dad Benjamin, a journalist grieving over his late wife. He decides to quit his job and move the family to a house in the country — even after he learns that a financially struggling private zoo comes with it. His sad adolescent son, Dylan, hates the idea, but daughter Rosie loves it.
The bottom line: The script includes rare barnyard profanity and mild sexual innuendo. A sick animal is put down. This happens off-screen. Dylan draws disturbing images that reflect his grief and alienation. Adult characters drink.
THE IRON LADY. It’s unlikely teens or even most college students, except perhaps history and poli-sci majors, will have much interest in this unusual, rather apolitical study of Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. Many will squirm through its stately pace. Teens interested in the finer points of acting, however, can delight in Meryl Streep’s infinitely detailed embodiment of the grande dame. Told from the point of view of a widowed and ever more distracted Thatcher, the film will disappoint those who wanted more of a critique of her policies. Instead they get her history in fragmented flashbacks.
The bottom line:
The film includes frightening reenactments of Irish Republican Army bombings, as well as raucous, occasionally violent anti-Thatcher demonstrations and strikes. There are archival shots of war violence and brief toplessness. A central theme is Thatcher’s slow descent into dementia. Some characters drink and smoke.
JOYFUL NOISE. Kids 12 and older who like comedies about grown-ups acting silly and stories laced with a touch of spiritual revival might have a little fun with “Joyful Noise.” Still, they’ll have to forgive the movie’s excessive two-hour length and disjointed mess of a story. Vi Rose Hill is named director of the church choir in a financially struggling Georgia hamlet, which miffs G.G., a wealthy choir member. G.G.’s wayward grandson comes to stay and immediately starts courting Vi’s daughter. There’s too much poorly directed plot, but the singing and corny humor make up for it — kinda.