6 and older

THE CROODS (PG). Kids 6 and older will care about what happens to the paleolithic family in “The Croods.” Patriarch Grug and his family hide inside their gloomy cave until dad gives the all-clear. Ugga is Grug’s understanding wife; Gran is his cranky mother-in-law; Thunk is his very obedient son; and Eep is his disobedient teenage daughter. Eep longs to leave the cave and explore. One night, she sneaks out and meets Guy, who warns her that the end of the world is coming. When the world really does seem to be exploding, Eep calls Guy back, and it’s a battle of wills between him and the older Grug over how to protect the family.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The Croods manage to survive all the calamities, so kids younger than 6 can be reassured. Seeing the film in 2-D would be less intense.

10 and older

FROM UP ON POPPY HILL (PG). Kids who love animation and are open to non-Hollywood films will be charmed by the hand-drawn look, exotic locale and poignant teen love story of this film from Japan’s fabled Studio Ghibli. It is 1963, and a girl named Umi lives with her grandmother, sister and several boarders. She meets a boy named Shun and helps him and his friends clean a clubhouse where the boys follow many intellectual pursuits. But the grown-ups want to tear it down. In the middle of all this, Umi and Shun, who are chastely falling in love, learn of something that could keep them apart.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Both Umi and Shun have experienced loss, and both have grown up around adults with sad memories. SPOILER ALERT: There is a delicately treated mystery, which implies that Umi and Shun might be brother and sister. This would kill their romance, but the mystery ends happily.


TYLER PERRY’S TEMPTATION: CONFESSIONS OF A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR. If they’re already fans of Tyler Perry’s brand of moralistic storytelling — quite separate from his semi-raunchy “Madea” comedies — high-schoolers may find meaning in this glitzy-but-grim tale. Middle-schoolers may not be ready for its adult themes. Young couple Judith and Brice move to the big city. Brice is a pharmacist and Judith works for an upscale matchmaker. Judith cheats on Brice, betrays her faith and suffers the consequences. It’s a tale as old as the Bible, but Perry turns it into a pop parable.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Judith’s infidelity is strongly implied in steamy kisses, but all sexual situations are stylized, non-explicit and out-of-focus or camouflaged. Characters drink and, it is implied, use cocaine. Some talk about being HIV-positive. Spousal abuse is discussed. The movie includes brief, non-lethal violence.

JURASSIC PARK 3D. Twenty years later, director Steven Spielberg invites audiences back to “Jurassic Park,” where a pristine 3-D Imax conversion helps the dinosaur residents pop on the screen . . . and sometimes off of it. Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum play skeptical scientists recruited to inspect a cutting-edge amusement park created by the entrepreneurial John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). Everything that can go wrong does, of course, leading to one of the most exciting and entertaining popcorn blockbusters on Spielberg’s impressive resume.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Parents amazed by Spielberg’s digital creations back in 1993 likely will be eager to share these thrills with their kids. And for the most part, “Jurassic Park” is a safe ride. Curse words are minimal, the scientific discussions are dry and the T-rex looks surprisingly realistic. And Spielberg wisely made two children his film’s heroes, helping “Jurassic Park” stay accessible to most youngsters.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION. Teen fans of over-the-top action movies will get a charge from this follow-up to 2009’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” On a mission in Pakistan, the G.I. Joes unit comes under attack. They’ve been set up, accused of treason and discredited back home. We learn that’s because the U.S. president is not who he seems to be and the evil Cobra organization is on its way to achieving world domination.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The mayhem hinges largely on high-tech firepower and ninja fighting. Injuries are rarely depicted graphically, but we do see dead fighters. One scene implies that torture is about to take place. The script includes mild sexual innuendo and vaguely implied semi-nudity, as well as rare mild profanity.


THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES. High-schoolers who are fans of actor Ryan Gosling will be in heaven, at least while he’s in the film. But that’s just the first act of this turgid story. The film’s themes are too mature for most middle-schoolers. Luke (Gosling) is a biker dude who learns that a woman from a one-night stand is pregnant and, a year later, sees the child and decides he’s going to be a father. But he starts robbing banks, and the story shifts to a rookie cop (Bradley Cooper) who is not a man of strong moral fiber. Eventually, the two men’s sons meet, and the contentious relationship between the boys seems to carry on the sins of the fathers.

THE BOTTOM LINE: There are several brief, but intense, scenes of violence, some of it involving lethal gunfire. Certain characters, including teens, drink, smoke and use drugs and use strong profanity. There is a brief, crude misogynist remark. Issues of depression, betrayal and corruption figure throughout.

Horwitz is a freelance writer. Read her previous reviews at On Parenting. Freelance movie critic Sean O’Connell contributed to this story.