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Family filmgoer reviews: 'Tangled,' 'Narnia,' 'Burlesque,' 'Phillip Morris'

By Jane Horwitz
Friday, December 10, 2010; T35

6 and older

TANGLED (PG)

A 3-D, animated riff on the Rapunzel fairy tale, "Tangled" is a sure bet for kids 6 and older - funny in both dialogue and physical humor, beautifully made and with inspired musical comedy numbers. A sorceress steals baby Rapunzel from the castle and locks the child in a tower. Rapunzel's ever-growing magical tresses keep the sorceress looking young. When Rapunzel nears 18, Flynn Rider, a thief on the run, scales the tower to hide out. Flynn gets Rapunzel out into the real 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 intimidate kids 6 and older.

10 and older

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER (PG)

World War II is raging over England as this third "Narnia" installment begins, but the only action takes place in Narnia, and it is fantastical and nongraphic, so the film is fine for kids 10 and older. (It might be thematically confusing for under-10s.) Lucy and Edmund return to Narnia. In their bedroom, the painting of an ancient ship comes to life and floods the room. They emerge in the seas of Narnia, where King Caspian rescues them. They all encounter the evil green mist, which conjures their worst fears and temptations.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The script includes references to "slave traders." The battle scenes show swords, crossbows and fists, but no injuries. The Dawn Treader encounters giant, scary sea serpents and huge waves.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART I (PG-13)

A "PG-10" rating would be perfect. Kids younger than 10 may quail at the attacks on Harry, Hermione and Ron. Harry et al. wander the wilderness, trying to stay safe and destroy the Horcrux, a jewel containing part of Voldemort's soul.

THE BOTTOM LINE: With SPOILER ALERTS: Contains tragic deaths as well as several bloody injuries. Voldemort sics his serpent on a Hogwarts professor. Someone nearly drowns, and everyone engages in explosive wand battles. Harry shares a kiss with Ginny Weasley. Dumbledore's tomb is opened. Harry weeps at his parents' grave.

PG-13

BURLESQUE.

The movie's entire premise is too sexualized for middle-schoolers. Pop diva Christina Aguilera plays Ali, a waitress who leaves a small town for Los Angeles, hoping to dance and sing. She lands a job as a waitress at the Burlesque Lounge. Ali proves to Tess (Cher) she has singing and dancing chops.

THE BOTTOM LINE: There are several implied overnight trysts, but we see only kissing, ever-skimpier clothing, and then they cut to the next morning in bed. The dancing is very steamily choreographed. Characters drink a lot, some smoke, and the script contains midrange profanity and sexual slang.

R

I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS

Jim Carrey takes a huge career leap in this very adult, not-for-under-17s, fact-based tale of love and criminality. He plays Steven Russell, who woke up from a bad car accident, decided he was gay, left his wife and jumped to the other side of the law. In prison he meets sweet, naive Phillip Morris and they become lovers. Steven repeatedly and ingeniously finds ways to get out of prison so he can pose as a lawyer in hopes of getting Phillip released.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Graphic sex scenes make this film inappropriate for folks younger than college age. The film depicts prison violence, a prescription drug overdose and drinking, strong profanity and sexual slang.

THE WARRIOR'S WAY

This oddball blend of Asian martial arts movie, cowboy flick and European art film is not for those younger than 17 because of extreme violence and a strongly implied rape theme. Yang is supposed to kill the last of his enemies, but that survivor is a baby. He can't do it and escapes with the child to the 19th century American West. Yang runs the town laundry and forms a bond with Lynne. We learn (in a graphic flashback) that her entire family was murdered by a vicious ex-soldier. Yang helps Lynne get her revenge.

THE BOTTOM LINE: There is much blood, slit throats, severed heads and limbs. An infant is shown in jeopardy, and there are a couple of scenes of attempted rape. The dialogue includes strong sexual innuendo.

BLACK SWAN

Explicit sexual situations and language make this handsomely wrought hallucinatory thriller inappropriate for those younger than 17. Nina dances with a major New York ballet company, but she's not a star. All Nina's psychological troubles are triggered when the dance company's director casts her in "Swan Lake" as both the innocent White Swan and the demonic Black Swan.

THE BOTTOM LINE: "Black Swan" features explicit sexual situations and fantasies. Brief moments of violence and implied self-injury are intense. Characters drink, use recreational drugs and smoke. The script uses very strong profanity and crude sexual slang.

weekend@washpost.com Horwitz is a freelance reviewer.

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