Reviews of movies with kids in mind, including 'Tangled,' 'Harry Potter'
6 and older
An animated, 3-D riff on the "Rapunzel" fairy tale, "Tangled" turns out to be a humorous, prettily made delight, and a good bet for kids 6 and older. The dialogue brims with modern slang, but the anachronistic language is consistent and somehow it works. The sorceress Mother Gothel steals the baby princess Rapunzel and locks her in a tower. Rapunzel grows up thinking the sorceress is her overprotective mother. The king and queen still hope to see their child again. Rapunzel's ever-growing magical hair keeps the crone looking young. When Rapunzel reaches 18 and her "mother" is away, the tower is scaled by Flynn Rider, a thief on the run. Flynn helps Rapunzel get out and see a bit of the world, and then drops his criminal ways to protect her. "Tangled" is also an old-style musical, with tuneful ballads and witty production numbers.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Most of the action sequences are not scary and played for comedy. The 3-D effects are muted and not likely to scare kids 6 and older.
10 and older
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART I (PG-13)
More violent and darkly moody than last year's film, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1" deserves a stronger rating than PG, but something less than a PG-13. Anyone for a PG-10? Most kids 10 and older who are familiar with the seventh and final book in the series will be okay at the film, despite its escalation of harrowing moments. They'll revel in the exquisite detail and the deeply felt characterizations and the sense of danger. Kids younger than 10 may quail at the intensity of the attacks on Harry, Hermione and Ron by the evil Lord Voldemort. The three teens leave friends and family, perhaps forever, to wander in the forest, trying to avoid the Death Eaters and find a way to destroy the Horcrux they acquired at the now Voldemort-controlled Ministry of Magic. The movie has humor, but it is often solemn and with a vivid sense of mortality and dread.
THE BOTTOM LINE: SPOILER ALERTS: Tragic deaths of humans and magical creatures occur, as do bloody injuries. Voldemort holds a professor in suspension, then sics his huge serpent on her, though we don't see the actual devouring. Someone nearly drowns, and everyone engages in explosive wand battles. Harry and Ginny Weasley have a mildly sexually charged kiss. Professor Dumbledore's tomb is opened. Harry weeps at his parents' grave.
Glitzy, schlocky, kitschy, a rip-off: All of those describe "Burlesque." Yet so does another word: fun. The movie is too sexualized for most middle-schoolers, but for high-schoolers and adults, it's a guilty pleasure. Pop diva Christina Aguilera plays Ali, a waitress who leaves a small town and goes to Los Angeles, hoping to dance and sing. She discovers the Burlesque Lounge, run by the formidable Tess. Ali becomes a waitress, meets bartender/would-be composer Jack and they become platonic roommates with lots of sexual tension. Finally Ali proves to Tess she has musical and dancing chops, but another dancer tries to stop her.
THE BOTTOM LINE: There are several implied overnight trysts between Ali and Jack, but we see only kissing, ever-skimpier clothing, and the next morning in bed. The dancing is very steamily choreographed, but not exactly sexually explicit. Characters drink a lot, and the script contains occasional midrange profanity.
THE NEXT THREE DAYS
This tightly wound thriller feels more like an R-rated film and is better geared to high-schoolers. The quick bursts of violence, while not excessively graphic, are intense and upsetting, as is the story of a family torn apart. "The Next Three Days" chronicles professor John Brennan's determination to get his adored wife, Lara, out of jail, where she sits convicted of murdering her boss. The opening scene as the police break in to take Lara is very unsettling. John becomes obsessed with breaking Lara out of jail. He finds he must use violence to survive.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The action scenes include a couple of loud and lethal shootings, bloody wounds and some fistfights. The dialogue features occasional midrange profanity. We learn Lara attempted suicide in jail. There is a violent scene in a meth lab. The sense that their little boy's well-being is always at risk is very strong.
LOVE & OTHER DRUGS
Teens 17 and older who enjoy an intense love story with a weepy-happy finale will glean much pleasure from "Love & Other Drugs." The R rating reflects steamy, semi-nude, quite explicit sexual situations and strong language. Jamie is a self-absorbed playboy with a low opinion of himself, seconded by most of his loving but critical family. He gets a job hawking Pfizer prescription drugs, and soon he's selling the new Viagra. He falls hard for Maggie, a sarcastic, beautiful artist who has early-stage Parkinson's disease. She claims she wants no emotional ties. Jamie agrees, until his stronger feelings take over.
THE BOTTOM LINE: In addition to the sexual situations, the film includes strong profanity and graphic sexual slang and much drinking and some presription drug misuse.