Family films: 'Tangled,' 'Harry Potter,' 'Burlesque'

By Jane Horwitz
Thursday, December 2, 2010; 5:34 PM

6 and older


An animated, 3-D riff on the Rapunzel fairy tale, "Tangled" is a delightful bet for kids 6 and older - humorous and prettily made, with some truly inspired musical comedy numbers. A sorceress steals baby Rapunzel from the castle and locks the child in a tower. Rapunzel grows up thinking the sorceress is her overprotective mother, while the king and queen still hope to find their missing child. Rapunzel's ever-growing magical hair keeps the sorceress looking young. When Rapunzel nears 18, her "mother" is away one day and Flynn Ryder, a thief on the run, scales the tower to hide out. Rapunzel, aided by her little chameleon Pascal, bops Flynn on the head with a skillet. Flynn helps Rapunzel get out and see a bit of the world, and then drops his criminal ways to protect her.

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


More violent and darkly moody than last year's film, this second-to-last installment deserves a stronger rating than PG, but something less than a PG-13. A "PG-10" would be perfect. Most kids 10 and older who are familiar with the seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling's series will be okay at the film (the second half comes out in July), despite its escalation of scary moments. Kids younger than 10 may quail at the intensity of the attacks on wizards-in-training Harry, Hermione and Ron by the evil Lord Voldemort and his shape-shifting Death Eaters. Harry and the others wander in the wilderness, trying to avoid the Death Eaters and destroy a Horcrux, a jewel that contains part of Voldemort's soul. Harry's final battle with the evil wizard looms ahead.

THE BOTTOM LINE: With SPOILER ALERTS: Tragic deaths of magical creatures and humans occur, as well as several bloody injuries. Voldemort holds a Hogwarts professor in suspension, then sics his serpent on her, its jaws gaping - though we don't see the actual devouring. Someone nearly drowns, and everyone engages in explosive wand battles. Harry shares a mildly steamy kiss with Ginny Weasley. Dumbledore's tomb is opened. Harry weeps at his parents' grave.



Glitzy, schlocky, kitschy, a rip-off - "Burlesque" is all those things, but it is also fun. The movie's entire premise is too sexualized for middle-schoolers, but for high-schoolers and adults, it's a hoot. Pop diva Christina Aguilera plays Ali, who leaves a small town for Los Angeles, hoping to dance and sing. She discovers a club run by the formidable Tess (Cher) and her right-hand man, Sean. Ali lands a job as a waitress and meets bartender Jack. They become platonic roommates, with lots of sexual tension. Ali proves to Tess she has musical and dancing chops, plus the ability to save the financially shaky club.

THE BOTTOM LINE: There are several implied overnight trysts. The dancing is very steamily choreographed, but not quite sexually explicit. Characters drink a lot, some smoke and the script contains midrange profanity and sexual slang.



The explicit sexual situations and language in this gripping, handsomely wrought hallucinatory thriller make it clearly for those 17 and older. "Black Swan" unfolds within the insular world of professional ballet. Director Darren Aronofsky and his terrific star Natalie Portman delve deeply into the obsessive pursuit of perfection. Nina Sayers is a dedicated ballerina. A naive, sexually uninitiated woman-child, she lives like a nunlike existence with her controlling mother. All Nina's psychological quirks and weaknesses are triggered when she's cast in "Swan Lake" as both the innocent White Swan and the demonic Black Swan.

THE BOTTOM LINE: "Black Swan" includes explicit sexual situations and fantasies, both heterosexual and lesbian. Brief moments of violence and implied self-injury are intense and somewhat bloody, but not highly graphic. Characters drink, use recreational drugs and smoke. The script features very strong profanity and crude sexual slang.


Teens 17 and older who enjoy an intense love story with a weepy-happy ending will get their ticket's worth at "Love & Other Drugs." The R rating reflects steamy, semi-nude, quite explicit sexual situations and strong language - not for middle-schoolers. Jamie is an under-achieving ladies' man. He gets a job hawking prescription drugs to doctors, and soon he's cleaning up, selling Viagra. He falls hard for one doctor's patient, Maggie, a sarcastic, beautiful artist with early-stage Parkinson's disease. She claims she wants no ties - just an affair. Jamie agrees, but his stronger feelings take over and suddenly the playboy is vulnerable.

THE BOTTOM LINE: In addition to the sexual situations, the film includes very strong profanity, graphic sexual slang, much drinking, some prescription drug misuse and brief pot-smoking. There's a real-life scene where people in various stages of Parkinson's disease talk about their lives. Horwitz is a freelance reviewer.

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