Family filmgoer: '127 Hours,' 'Unstoppable'

Daniel Radcliffe, from left, Warwick Davis, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint in
Daniel Radcliffe, from left, Warwick Davis, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1."
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By Jane Horwitz
Friday, November 19, 2010

10 and older

Megamind (PG).This animated 3-D comedy spoofs superhero movies in ways that will tickle teenage and grown-up film buffs. Yet there's enough silliness in it to divert kids 10 and older. Younger than that, and "Megamind" may prove soporific. Megamind's archenemy is the preening superhero Metro Man, who he unexpectedly destroys. Megamind tries to create a new superhero to fight, but this backfires.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Megamind refers to "getting my butt kicked." Some action sequences are a little intense. We see what might be the skeleton of the vaporized Metro Man. Roxanne's dopey cameraman, morphed into a superhuman "hero" by Megamind, becomes a bully.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I.More violent and darkly moody than last year's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (PG), "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1" deserves a stronger rating, though PG-13 seems a bit harsh. How about a PG-10? Most kids 10 and older who are familiar with the seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling's beloved series will be okay at the film, despite its many harrowing moments. They will revel in the depth of detail and characterization in this adaptation of the first half of the book. (Part 2 is due out in July.) Adults or kids not wholly familiar with the books or films may have a hard time. The rating reflects the intensity of the attacks on Harry, Hermione and Ron by the evil Lord Voldemort and his shape-shifting Death Eaters. Harry and friends must leave loved ones, perhaps forever, to wander through the wilderness, trying to find the tools they need for Harry's face-off with Voldemort. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Magic is overthrown by Voldemort's minions and becomes a Nazi-like organization. The tone of the film is not without humor, but often solemn and with a sense of mortality and evil.

THE BOTTOM LINE: SPOILER ALERTS: Tragic deaths of humans and magical creatures occur, as well as several graphic and bloody injuries. Early in the film, Voldemort and his followers hold a professor in suspension, then sic Voldemort's huge serpent on her, its jaws gaping. Someone nearly drowns, and everyone engages in explosive wand battles. Harry and Ginny Weasley have a mildly sexually charged kiss. We see the tomb of the deceased Professor Dumbledore opened. Harry, orphaned long ago by the murderous Voldemort, weeps at his parents' grave.

Unstoppable.Teens who like action flicks will get adrenaline kicks out of this runaway-train saga and its true-blue working heroes. "Unstoppable" earns its PG-13 by pulling punches when it comes to disaster-movie tradition. A veteran locomotive engineer, Frank, and his rookie second-in-command, Will, pursue a freight train that has rolled away from its incompetent engineer. The train, full of toxic material, is headed straight for a city.

THE BOTTOM LINE: There is much destruction of property. Most injuries are depicted nongraphically. The dialogue includes midrange profanity and mild sexual innuendo about Frank's college-age daughters earning school tuition at Hooters.

Morning Glory.Rachel McAdams's witty portrait of a TV producer will be pretty much the only thing that draws in high-school-age audiences. (The script may be a little crude for middle-schoolers.) Becky lands a job with a failing network show. She persuades the brass to let her use the legendary reporter and former anchor Mike Pomeroy as co-host. Mike despises chatty morning shows and openly sulks on-air, infuriating the show's longtime female co-host.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The movie includes a couple of semi-steamy but nonexplicit sexual situations. The script includes much, mostly mild but sometimes naughty, sexual innuendo, as well as midrange profanity.

Fair Game. High-schoolers with a sharp interest in cloak-and-dagger spy sagas may find "Fair Game" the equivalent of a great read. CIA operative Valerie Plame's husband, Joe Wilson, was sent to Niger by his wife's superiors to determine if Iraq had bought uranium there. When the Bush administration cited Iraqi purchase of uranium in Africa as one reason for invading Iraq, Wilson went public arguing the contrary. The Bush administration tried to discredit him and exposed Plame as a CIA operative, thus ending her career.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The movie uses much low-grade profanity and some that is 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.


127 Hours.The grislier aspects of this survival story earn the R rating, though they occur only in the last part of the film. High-schoolers 16 and older with strong stomachs and a love of experimental cinema may well find "127 Hours" riveting. The film is based on the experiences of Aron Ralston, who in 2003 went hiking in the Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The film reenacts how a small, loose boulder pinned his hand and trapped him in a narrow crevasse. Armed with a cheap pen knife, it becomes horribly clear what he must do to save his life.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The amputation sequence is agony to watch. There are sequences about drinking his own urine after his water runs out. Some of Aron's flashbacks include nongraphic but strongly implied college drink-and-sex-a-thons. The dialogue includes profanity.

Horwitz is a freelance reviewer

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