Movie reviews with kids in mind, including 'Megamind' and 'Fair Game'

By Jane Horwitz
Friday, November 5, 2010; 9:04 AM


This is another animated film that's tough to recommend for a particular age group. The repartee between characters and much of the visual humor seems geared to teenage and adult film buffs. Yet there is enough silliness to divert kids 10 and older. Younger than that, and "Megamind" may prove a soporific. Generally it's clever and witty. Occasionally it's dull. Supervillain Megamind tries to terrorize Metro City. His arch enemy is superhero Metro Man. Megamind accidentally destroys Metro Man, and with no one to fight any more, he's lost. He finds himself falling for TV reporter Roxanne Ritchi. He abducts Roxanne's doofus cameraman, Hal, and turns him into a new superhero, with consequences that prove character does count.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Some of the action sequences, though animated, are a little intense, with explosions and large robotic fighters. We see what appears to be the skeleton of the vaporized Metro Man. Hal becomes a bully and a thief.


High-schoolers with a sharp interest in cloak-and-dagger spy sagas and recent history may find "Fair Game" the equivalent of a great read, even if they know nothing of the 2003 political scandal. Valerie Plame was a covert CIA operative among those trying to find out how far Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions had gone. Joe Wilson was sent to Niger by the CIA to check on intelligence that Iraq had bought uranium there. He reported that the intelligence was wrong, contradicting administration officials, who cited this as a reason for the war. The Bush administration tried to discredit him and exposed Plame as a CIA operative. Never less than fascinating, the film dramatically explores the case and the effects on the Wilsons' marriage.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The movie uses considerable low-grade profanity and some stronger. Characters drink and smoke, and there's one mildly implied marital sexual situation. The film shows footage of the Iraq war and creates a sense that Plame's contacts in Iraq are in grave danger.

Clint Eastwood's surprising, elegant, profound film explores the idea of an afterlife. Thoughtful teens, especially high-schoolers and college kids, will find much in it to ponder. Marie, a French TV news anchor on vacation in Indonesia, nearly drowns in the 2004 tsunami. She researches and writes a book about her near-death experience. In London, twin boys are torn asunder after one is hit by a car and killed. The desolate surviving child becomes obsessed with contacting his dead brother. And in San Francisco, George Lonegan, a psychic who seems able to contact dead people, tries to ignore his gift and have a normal life.

The bottom line: The depiction of the Asian tsunami is truly harrowing. The terrorist bombing of the London Underground in 2005 is reenacted, in a more understated way. There is a subtle reference to childhood sexual abuse regarding an adult character. The twin boys' mother is a drug addict. Characters use midrange profanity and drink.


Crass, profane and rather heartless, this raucous road-trip comedy isn't nearly as funny or clever as it pretends to be and teens 17 and older may feel that way, too, especially if they're fans of director Todd Phillips's last hit, "The Hangover." "Due Date" has moments of modest hilarity, but overall it's a bit tiresome. Peter is an architect trying to make it to Los Angeles in time for his wife's childbirth. Before takeoff, a misunderstanding on the plane with a man named Ethan gets both tossed off and put on the no-fly list. With personalities like oil and water, they head cross-country, disastrously.

THE BOTTOM LINE: In one supposedly comic scene, Peter punches an annoying little boy in the stomach, then scares him into not telling anyone. The film contains strong profanity; a fairly explicit masturbation scene; marijuana use; nonlethal violence; and car accidents. A major theme in the film involves Ethan's recent loss of his father and how he plans to dispose of the ashes, stored in a coffee can.

Writer-director Tyler Perry has done a terrific job adapting for the screen Ntozake Shange's beloved "choreopoem" (published in 1975 and opened off-Broadway in 1976) about the interconnected lives, triumphs and tragedies of a group of urban African American women. This revelatory dramatic story retains many of the gorgeous solo poems (used like monologues) from Shange's stage play, but the dance is replaced with a linking narrative. This film is not for moviegoers younger than 16 or 17. Some of the stories are harsh, involving a back-alley abortion, a rape and, most horribly, a drunken, abusive husband dropping two young children to their deaths.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The death of the children is not shown graphically - we see the father let go of their hands - but is still horrific. The film depicts a vicious date rape which, while clothed, is graphic. Consensual sexual situations with partial undress are more implied and not explicit. The abortion scene also stops short but has explicit implications. The dialogue includes strong profanity, and some characters drink.

This film, a mildish R, could intrigue high-school-age horror buffs. A married couple (the wife is related to the female character in the first film) fires their nanny because she keeps trying to rid the house of evil spirits. They think she's crazy, which is their mistake. After the house is ransacked, security cameras are installed. We spend endless minutes watching videos of empty rooms. Then suddenly there are sounds and startling events, which build.

The bottom line: The script includes strong words and midrange sexual slang and innuendo among teen characters. An infant is shown to be in danger, as is a family pet. Horwitz is a freelance reviewer.

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