Family filmgoer: 'Yogi Bear,' 'Gulliver's Travels,' 'Tron: Legacy'

Jack Black at large: Lilliputians tie down Gulliver in "Gulliver's Travels," which teaches valuable lessons with good humor.
Jack Black at large: Lilliputians tie down Gulliver in "Gulliver's Travels," which teaches valuable lessons with good humor.
By Jane Horwitz
Friday, December 24, 2010

3 and older

YOGI BEAR (PG).The very youngest kids you might bring to a cartoon matinee, say ages 3 to 8, may be amused by the slapstick gags in this labored farce. Ranger Smith is not all that impressed that Yogi Bear and Boo Boo can talk. But when the mayor decides to close Jellystone, Ranger Smith and the bears team up to save the park.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The 3-D aspect of the film is not scary, nor is the cartoony mayhem. An accidental setting-off of fireworks isn't that loud and only destroys property. Someone uses the phrase "screwing up," and there is a bit of toilet humor.

10 and older

GULLIVER'S TRAVELS (PG). Jack Black brings his irreverent sensibilities to this adaptation of Jonathan Swift's 18th-century novel. The film radiates good humor, which could win the hearts of kids 10 and older. On a bad impulse, Gulliver submits plagiarized writing samples to his crush at a magazine, and she gives him an assignment to sail in the Bermuda Triangle and write about it. He encounters a huge (slightly scary) storm and wakes on a beach, tied up by the bitty Lilliputians. Gulliver helps them repel invaders and becomes a hero.

THE BOTTOM LINE: We see only one giant, a huge girl who plunks Gulliver in her dollhouse. There he finds a previous prisoner who is now a skeleton. The film does a decent job of demonstrating how unacceptable Gulliver's lying and plagiarism are.

TRON: LEGACY (PG). This sequel may well delight video game-loving kids 10 and older, who are totally at home with the concept of virtual reality. It uses the latest technology, and it looks great. But the action sequences are incredibly loud and fast. Sam Flynn has lived without his dad, Kevin, since he was a boy and Kevin disappeared into his own computerized "grid." Sam finds a portal into his dad's virtual world, where he must outsmart rogue humanoid "programs" now holding their inventor hostage.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The script contains rare mild profanity, sexual innuendo and implied nudity. The action sequences may upset some kids younger than 10 with the sheer deafening intensity and the sight of non-human characters shattering into shards of light.


TRUE GRIT. This new, breathtaking adaptation is very iffy for middle-schoolers because of its portrayal of Wild West lawlessness with R-ish elements. For older teens and adults, however, this "True Grit" offers the delights of a cohesive, brilliantly spun yarn. It is the post-Civil War frontier, and formidable 14-year-old Mattie Ross hires a lawman to kill the rogue Tom Chaney who murdered her father. She winds up with drunk-and-disorderly Marshal Rooster Cogburn and the comically stoic Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf. The threesome sets off on an odd, epic journey, Coen brothers-style.

THE BOTTOM LINE: "True Grit" gets a PG-13, despite its intense bursts of violence and haunting images of death. This film is a wonder, but more for high-schoolers and adults. It also includes some sexual innuendo.

LITTLE FOCKERS.The humor feels awfully forced in "Little Fockers." That doesn't mean high-schoolers won't get a charge out of watching adults behave badly. The sexually focused humor is pretty graphic at times, making "Little Fockers" inappropriate for middle-schoolers. Nurse Greg Focker has been promoted, and he and Pam have two young children. Greg's relationship with his father-in-law, Jack Byrnes, has mellowed, until Jack gets the idea that Greg may be having an affair. Greg's dad is off learning the tango, while his mom has a sex advice TV show.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The adult-oriented sexual humor features erectile dysfunction jokes, including visual gags about that four-hour Viagra side effect, as well as other sexual innuendo. Characters use mild profanity, misuse prescription drugs, drink and engage in other digestive humor.


THE KING'S SPEECH. Bizarrely rated R for a few brief bursts of strong profanity in scenes involving speech therapy, this marvelous film deserves a wide audience that includes teens. It tells an inspiring fact-based tale. It will delight teens who prefer human stories over special effects. Britain's King George VI came to the throne after his older brother King Edward VIII abdicated. "Bertie" had a terrible stutter and dreaded public speaking. In the film, his wife gets him to see an eccentric speech therapist. An unlikely friendship grows out of the therapy sessions, which start before a radio speech the new king must give as war with Germany begins.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The strong profanity (including the F-word) occurs only in some of the speech therapy scenes. The film has vaguely implied sexual references.

THE FIGHTER. Teens 17 and older who like drama straight from America's mean streets may gravitate toward this gritty true-story of boxing brothers from Lowell, Mass. Micky Ward longs to get his once-promising boxing career back on track. His half brother Dicky Eklund, now Mickey's trainer, was once an up-and-coming boxer but veered into a life of crack addiction and petty crime.

THE BOTTOM LINE: "The Fighter" earns its R with portrayals of drug abuse, drinking, smoking, steaming profanity, a lone sexual situation, graphic boxing scenes and some outside-the-ring nonlethal violence. Horwitz is a freelance reviewer.

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