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Family Filmgoer: 'Secretariat,' 'Inside Job,' 'Hereafter,' 'Red' and more

In the reverent "Secretariat," Diane Lane, left, plays the devoted and determined owner of a racehorse, while John Malkovich, right, portrays the champion's eccentric trainer.
In the reverent "Secretariat," Diane Lane, left, plays the devoted and determined owner of a racehorse, while John Malkovich, right, portrays the champion's eccentric trainer.

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By Jane Horwitz
Friday, October 29, 2010

10 and older

SECRETARIAT (PG)

Teens and preteens may yawn a bit during this reverent, stolidly told tale. The movie is clearly intended more as a portrait of the horse's devoted and determined owner, Penny Chenery, and eccentric trainer, Lucien Laurin. It is the early 1970s, and Chenery is dismissed as a housewife out of place in the racing world. She overcomes sexism, financial pitfalls and family disputes to raise and race Secretariat.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Some softhearted, animal-loving preteens may find the horse races hard to watch, though no injuries are shown. Some characters use mildly crude humor.

PG-13

INSIDE JOB

Even high-school-age news junkies may have trouble following the econo-speak and bar graphs in this fascinating, infuriating documentary about the Wall Street crisis of 2008. If high-schoolers stick with it, however, they will come away with a sense of stunned outrage at how the profit motive, mixed with Type A personalities in the world of finance, led some to take risks that destroyed their own companies and worked against their country's economic best interests, often with the blessings of government regulators and politicians.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Some profanity turns up in unlikely places, such as when a U.S. senator quotes a crude e-mail sent inside a Wall Street firm. Other mild profanity turns up, as well as references to financial high rollers using cocaine and hiring prostitutes.

HEREAFTER

Clint Eastwood's surprising, elegant, profound film deals with the idea of an afterlife. Thoughtful teens, especially high-schoolers and college kids, will find much to ponder in it. The narrative has three strands, which connect only in the last act: Marie nearly drowns in the 2004 tsunami. She researches and writes a book about her near-death experience. Twin boys are torn asunder after one is killed by a car. The surviving child becomes obsessed with contacting his dead brother. And a psychic who seems able to contact dead people tries to ignore his gift so he can have a normal life. A connection is woven that is magical, in the cinematic sense.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The depiction of the Asian tsunami is truly harrowing. The terrorist bombing of the London Underground in 2005 is more understated. There is a subtle reference to childhood sexual abuse. The twin boys' mother is a drug addict. Characters drink and use midrange profanity.

RED

Teens can savor this spies-in-action comedy, full of terrific actors and blessed with a consistently funny, occasionally hilarious script, however ridiculous. Frank is a retired CIA agent, so bored in his suburban home that he likes to chat by phone with a pension clerk, Sarah. When assassins come after him, Frank demolishes them, then heads to protect Sarah and tracks down former colleagues to help.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The film includes some rather naughty but vague sexual innuendo and midrange profanity, but the PG-13 rating mostly reflects high-intensity shootouts, explosions and chases, with a few bloody point-blank killings.


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