THE BOTTOM LINE: There’s little to scare tots except, perhaps, when they watch Piglet tremble at the thought of the Backson, which, of course, doesn’t exist. Kids might get briefly scared when the rambunctious Tigger disguises himself as the monster.
10 and older
Zookeeper (PG). Kids 10 and older may glean a few minor giggles from this awful farce, in which Griffin, a nice-guy zookeeper, gets advice on his love life from animals. The premise is sloppily executed here. But hey, who can’t enjoy hearing a monkey suggest that a human throw excrement? Even with the voices of Cher as a lioness, Sylvester Stallone as her mate and Nick Nolte as a depressed gorilla whom Griffin takes out on the town, the movie feels amateurish and tacky.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The comedy involves toilet humor and mildly homophobic jokes. The script uses occasional mild profanity and sexual innuendo. There’s a subplot about a nasty assistant zookeeper who mistreats the gorilla. We see slightly bloody injuries on the gorilla’s face but don’t see the keeper inflict them.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. An awkward mess of flashbacks and teary sentiment, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” based on the novel by Lisa See, jumps between different time periods with little coherence. More suitable for high-schoolers than younger teens, the film may still send them scurrying up the aisles. Two lifelong friends, Nina and Sophia, are estranged. Nina learns that Sophia has had a terrible accident. Nina finds a manuscript Sophia had been working on about two 19th-century girls in a similarly loyal friendship. As little girls from different backgrounds, they’re paired by a matchmaker to be “sisters,” or “laotong.” As women, Lily and Snow Flower are supposed to give each other friendship for life, but distance, tragedy and changes in social standing strain the relationship.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The movie’s portrayal of the ancient practice of foot-binding is shown in fairly graphic detail. Little girls are shown in a lot of pain, barely able to walk. The film includes one sex scene, from the 19th-century era. Other disturbing scenes show a typhoid epidemic with bodies in the streets. When the 19th-century characters flee a violent rebellion, they sleep outdoors, and a child dies in the cold. Snow Flower’s husband, it’s implied, beats her.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2. Exciting and full of revealed secrets and beloved characters exhibiting great courage and sacrifice, this final film adaptation will more than satisfy all the teenage and older fans of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books. Many kids 10 and older will be able to handle it, too, though it is dark and full of death. With Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger at his side, Harry learns important things about his mother, Lily, and others in his early life. Harry must face the prospect of death, and the film’s somber tone reflects that. Voldemort’s minions surround Hogwarts, waiting on a hill, preparing to attack.
The bottom line: The battles and wand fights are never exactly bloody, but they are more harrowing this time around because the camera pulls back to show many dead. Voldemort’s frightening snake plays an even more lethal role in this film. If parents decide to take kids younger than, say, 12 or 13, they might opt for 2-D instead of 3-D to minimize the scared-out-of-their-wits factor. Of course, if kids already know the books, they’ll know what’s coming. There is only one profane word. Harry and Ginny Weasley have a big kiss. A chained dragon has bloody marks where its bonds have chafed.
Friends With Benefits. Sexually explicit, but ultimately about the triumph of love over sarcasm and emotional unavailability, “Friends With Benefits” is geared to college kids and 20-somethings but will probably attract under-17s, many of whom will lack the sophistication to deal with it. The bedroom scenes are graphic in terms of what’s implied and discussed, though little skin is actually shown. Dylan is a talented editor who’s recruited by headhunter Jamie to come to New York from his native Los Angeles to run GQ magazine. Dylan and Jamie enjoy bantering, and they quickly decide to engage in a friendship that includes sex.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The multiple sex scenes in the film are very explicit in a clinical way, but generally played for comic effect and without nudity. The language of the script is profane and sexually explicit. The only semi-nudity occurs late in the film. Though it seems to glorify promiscuity among 20-somethings, the movie proves quite old-fashioned in its find-your-true-love final message.
Horwitz is a freelance critic.