Family Filmgoer movie reviews: 'Alice in Wonderland,' 'Remember Me,'
10 and older
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (PG). It would help if kids had some prior knowledge of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" since Tim Burton's fresh take changes the plot while incorporating most of the original characters.
This movie's Alice is a young Victorian woman with an independent streak, and the story is about her liberation from doing what's expected, helped by a visit down the rabbit hole. When a twit of an aristocrat proposes to her at a garden party, Alice dashes off to follow the White Rabbit. She falls down the rabbit hole and lands in Underland. Ruled by the bulbous-headed, tyrannical Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), Underland is a ruin. Alice learns she's destined to help overthrow the Red Queen by slaying her fearsome monster, the Jabberwocky. It is the brave, gap-toothed, orange-haired Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) who gently nudges the reluctant Alice toward victory. The movie is occasionally incomprehensible because of accents or overdone effects. In 3-D, the film has extra visual depth.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The violence, while strictly fantasy-style, gets quite fearsome and may scare kids younger than 10. The fall down the rabbit hole is rather scary, too. The Bandersnatch monster is toothy and vicious and gashes Alice's arm. Its eye gets plucked out with a pin. There is very mild sexual innuendo and an infidelity mention early in the film.
REMEMBER ME. Some filmgoers will find "Remember Me" and its climactic finale annoyingly predictable, but high-schoolers may not see the tragedy coming and just appreciate the drama. Robert Pattinson of the "Twilight" films will pull high-schoolers in, too, playing yet another tall-thin-and-tortured antihero named Tyler. Estranged from his gruff stockbroker dad (Pierce Brosnan) since the suicide of his older brother (not shown), Tyler is a lost soul. Then he meets Ally (Emilie de Ravin), a fellow college student who is the daughter of a cop who roughed Tyler up and arrested him outside a bar. The two young people connect on all levels until other issues threaten to separate them.
THE BOTTOM LINE: This PG-13 is not for middle-schoolers. The movie opens with a prologue showing the young Ally witnessing her mother's murder in a subway mugging. The sexual situations are quite steamy. The murder is very intense, and there are fistfights, profanity, drug references, sexual slang and much drinking and smoking.
SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE. This earns its R rating (and then some), with highly profane language and explicit sexual slang, as well as semi-explicit comic sexual situations, but the story is sweet. A skinny, nerdy Pittsburgh guy named Kirk works for airport security and figures, since he never went to college, that his life is mapped out for him and it's not too exciting. Then he meets a gorgeous young woman who falls for him not because of his washboard abs (he has none) or money, but because he's nice and funny and smarter than he realizes. His burping, beer-drinking friends can't believe it, nor can his awful ex-girlfriend (Lindsay Sloane). Their constant buzz-kill chatter nearly destroys Kirk's self-confidence.
THE BOTTOM LINE: "She's Out of My League" uses extreme frat-house/locker-room humor, sexual situations and language, but the story it tells is something much gentler. There is also drinking and backview nudity.
GREEN ZONE. High-schoolers into current events and recent history might be drawn into this politically charged thriller. Directed by Paul Greengrass (the "Bourne" thrillers), the movie has his trademark handheld-camera moves to make us feel at the dizzying center of the action. Matt Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Miller. It is the start of the Iraq war in 2003, and he is in search of the weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein supposedly stockpiled. But Miller and his team find nothing. When he asks about the bad intelligence at a briefing, the White House's man in Iraq (Greg Kinnear) and the military brass tell him to shut up, but a grizzled CIA guy asks Miller to do off-the-books work for him. The film's plot spins a little out of control, but it is always fascinating.
THE BOTTOM LINE: "Green Zone" depicts deafening, scary house-to-house battles, street skirmishes and firefights, showing civilians, women and children in danger. There are bloody point-blank shootings as well. The film has midrange profanity and drinking.
BROOKLYN'S FINEST. This very adult film about cops working Brooklyn's toughest neighborhood ought to grab filmgoers 17 and older who like the genre. Richard Gere plays a burned-out cop just a week away from retirement and trying to avoid any conflict. Don Cheadle plays an undercover cop trying to bring down a drug gang but is torn about betraying its leader (Wesley Snipes), an old friend just out of prison. Ethan Hawke plays a family man desperately trying to skim off drug money to help his sick wife. His partner tries to stop him. All these cops don't know one another, but their fates intertwine.
THE BOTTOM LINE: "Brooklyn's Finest" has much blood-spattering point-blank gun violence, beatings, explicit sexual situations with nudity, a prostitution theme, strong profanity, drug use, drinking and smoking.
Horwitz is a freelance reviewer.