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Family filmgoer: 'Little Fockers,' 'The King's Speech,' 'True Grit'

Mailroom worker and would-be travel writer Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black) finds himself on the island of Lilliput in "Gulliver's Travels."
Mailroom worker and would-be travel writer Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black) finds himself on the island of Lilliput in "Gulliver's Travels." (Hy*drau"lx)

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By Jane Horwitz
Friday, December 31, 2010

10 and older

GULLIVER'S TRAVELS (PG). The film lacks cinematic panache but radiates good humor, which could win the affection of kids 10 and older. Lemuel Gulliver has languished for years in the mailroom of a magazine. He can't bring himself to ask out Darcy. On a bad impulse, he submits plagiarized writing samples, and she gives him an assignment to sail solo in the Bermuda Triangle. He wakes up on a beach, tied up by the itty-bitty people of Lilliput, who appear to live in old, pantalooned Europe.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The battle scenes are not scary. His sojourn with giants where he is the tiny person is very brief, and we see only one giant girl. The film does a decent job of showing how unacceptable Gulliver's lying and plagiarism are.

PG-13

RABBIT HOLE. Teens interested in theater and the art of acting may find "Rabbit Hole" absorbing. Becca and Howie lost their boy in a car accident eight months before the film opens. It was a teen driver, but it was not his fault; the boy ran out unexpectedly. The parents are dealing very differently with their grief, which is pulling them apart.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Howie tries to initiate sex with Becca in one scene, but the moment isn't explicit. The film features midrange profanity, pot smoking and the implication that Howie may start an affair.

LITTLE FOCKERS. Sometimes a comedy franchise runs out of steam. 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 the movie inappropriate for middle-schoolers. Greg has been promoted at the hospital, and he and his wife have two young children. Greg's relationship with his father-in-law, Jack, has mellowed, until Jack suspects Greg of having an affair.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The adult-oriented sexual humor features erectile dysfunction jokes, including visual gags. In a hospital scene, Greg inserts a tube into a patient's backside. Characters use mild profanity, abuse prescription drugs, drink and engage in toilet humor.

TRUE GRIT. This version is breathtaking, yet problematic for middle-schoolers because of the grim lawlessness it portrays. In the post-Civil War frontier, 14-year-old Mattie Ross hires a lawman to kill the rogue who murdered her father. She lands drunk-and-disorderly Marshal Rooster Cogburn and comic/heroic Texas Ranger LaBoeuf. The three set off on an odd but epic journey.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Something's amiss when "The King's Speech" gets an undeserved R, but "True Grit" gets a PG-13, despite its intense bursts of violence and haunting images of death, both human and animal. It also shows drinking and smoking and includes sexual innuendo.

R

MADE IN DAGENHAM. For history-loving teens 16 and older, this edgy, fact-based film could be quite an eye-opener about labor unions. It tells the story of women machinists at a Ford Motor Co. plant in Dagenham, England, in 1968. The women go on strike because they're downgraded to "unskilled" so the company doesn't have to pay them at parity with men. Rita O'Grady devotes herself so fully to the cause that she jeopardizes her roles as mother, wife and friend.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The film includes one explicit, though clothed, sexual situation, as well as considerable strong profanity. There is a suicide.

CASINO JACK. This saga of one man's overweening ambition and downfall is very adult. Even young people 17 and older may not be fascinated by the saga, unless they're savvy about the machinations of backroom Washington. Kevin Spacey is Jack Abramoff, who lobbied his way to the top spheres of influence during the George W. Bush administration, until his swindling of Indian tribes and unsavory dealings with politicians became public.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The film bristles with strong profanity and depicts a gun murder and a punch-up. Characters use cocaine, drink and smoke. Sexual images include toplessness.

THE KING'S SPEECH. Bizarrely rated R for a few brief bursts of profanity, this marvelous film deserves a wide audience that includes teens. Britain's King George VI comes to the throne after his older brother, King Edward VIII, abdicates. "Bertie" doesn't want to be king. He has a terrible stutter and dreads public speaking. His wife, Elizabeth, prods him to see a speech therapist.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The strong profanity occurs only in some of the speech therapy scenes. The film has vague sexual references.

THE FIGHTER. Teens 17 and older who like drama straight from the gut may gravitate toward this gritty true story of boxing brothers. Micky Ward longs to get his onetime promising welterweight career back on track. His half brother Dicky Eklund was once an up-and-coming boxer, but veered into a life of crack addiction and petty crime. Micky falls for Charlene, who tries to rescue him from his family's clutches.

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

weekend@washpost.com Horwitz is a freelance reviewer


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