Movie reviews for families: ‘Hop,’ ‘Soul Surfer,’ ‘Arthur,’ more

April 8, 2011
8
and older

Hop (PG). Kids 8 and older and parents can’t help but get a charge out of “Hop.” Kids 6 to 8 may also have fun but will miss a lot of the jokes. E.B. is the son of the reigning Easter Bunny on Easter Island in the South Pacific, but E.B. wants to be a drummer. So he sneaks away in search of fame. Fred, an unemployed grown son living with his parents, connects with E.B. On Easter Island, the evil chick Carlos is organizing a coup to topple the Easter Bunny. Fred and E.B. are soon in the middle of that battle.

THE BOTTOM LINE: E.B. poops jelly beans. The battle between the marshmallow chicks and the bunnies is mostly funny, but the militaristic minions of chicks could unsettle the youngest kids. The religious aspect of Easter is not dealt with.

12
and older

Soul Surfer (PG). A heavy-handed blend of faith-based drama and sports saga, “Soul Surfer” may appeal to some kids in middle school and beyond, with its emotional true-story elements and impressive surfing footage. Competitive teen surfer Bethany Hamilton loses an arm in a shark attack while surfing. Bethany’s injury proves a real test of her surf-loving family. A trip with her church group to help after the Thailand tsunami proves an epiphany for Bethany, who regains her ability to surf.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The shark attack is portrayed very briefly and is not shown graphically. However, there is plenty of blood in the water and soaking through a bandage. After she heals, we see a stump and a scar that gradually fades. Other intense elements in the film are emotional stress for Bethany and her family, and rather harrowing surfing competitions.

PG-
13

Arthur. This version of “Arthur” is not unamusing, and teen audiences will be diverted by it. Alas, the sexual jokes are in line with what’s on many sitcoms these days. But it’s not really for preteens. Arthur is a perpetually drunk, witty, promiscuous, 30-something man-child who lives off his trust fund. Forced to become engaged to the tyrannical Susan or lose his money, Arthur drinks even more. Then he meets Naomi as she’s getting nicked by the cops for leading a tour of Grand Central Station without a license. The plot thickens.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Besides the portrayal of drunkenness, the film contains considerable strong sexual innuendo and non-explicit sexual situations. It also includes occasional midrange profanity, drug references and toilet humor. There is a sad subplot about illness and death. Susan’s thuggish dad threatens Arthur by nearly cutting off his tongue with a table saw.

Hanna. Too violent for middle-schoolers, “Hanna” will transport high-schoolers who like brainy action flicks. Erik lives with daughter Hanna in a cabin near the Arctic Circle. He has been training her as an assassin who can shoot, fight, hunt and survive on her own. CIA operative Marissa will try to kill Hanna one day, for reasons not explained till much later. Erik wants Hanna to kill Marissa first. Hanna flips a switch, which alerts Marissa to their whereabouts, and the chase is on.

The bottom line: “Hanna” goes well into R-ish territory for its violence, portraying point-blank shootings, neck-breaking fights, stabbings, hangings and more. The movie doesn’t show graphic injuries, but there is spattered blood. We also see dead, skinned animals. The script contains occasional profanity and mild sexual innuendo.

Source Code. Teens who like science and science fiction, as well as cerebral thrillers, will get into the ingenious “Source Code.” Jake Gyllenhaal plays Colter Stevens, a recent war vet who wakes up on a train outside Chicago. Then the train blows up. Colter awakens and is told that he will be sent back to the train and has eight minutes to prevent the explosion. The premise is developed to thrilling, character-deepening effect.

The bottom line: The repeated explosions do not involve the depiction of serious injuries. However, fights that Gyllenhaal’s character gets into are rough and occasionally lethal. The issue of racial profiling comes up. The script includes occasional midrange profanity. The idea of a nuclear terror device going off near a major city is a key plot point and is highly unsettling.

R

Your Highness. High-schoolers, particularly boys, may go for the style of humor in “Your Highness,” which uses modern-day profanity, slang and sexual crudity to tell an adult fairy-tale set in the Middle Ages. Lazy, selfish, cranky Thadeous envies his sweet-natured older brother, Prince Fabious, because he’s going to be king. An evil wizard abducts Fabious’s fiancee, Belladonna. Thadeous goes along on a quest to rescue her. Along the way, they meet Isabel, a beautiful warrior on her own quest.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Clearly geared to teenage and college guys, “Your Highness” won’t destroy the morals of those younger than 17 if they see it, but most parents may find it inappropriate. It contains steaming profanity, crude sexual slang, less graphic sexual situations, nudity and crass visual jokes. The mayhem involves impalings with sword, spear and dagger, along with wizards hurling lightning bolts.

Horwitz is a freelance reviewer.

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