Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. This not-as-cute-as-we-adults-remember-them sequel will still tickle kids 6 and older, for whom it will be quite fresh. Dave takes the Chipmunks and the Chipettes on a cruise before a big performance. Disobeying Dave’s orders, Alvin leads the gang onto a parasail that accidentally cuts loose from the ship. In pursuit, Dave and former music executive Ian, now an embittered shipboard entertainer, find themselves floating in the Caribbean. Everyone lands on the same deserted island. The Chipmunks meet a pilot, Zoe, who says she crash-landed there. In the last act (spoiler alert!), a volcano starts to erupt, Zoe turns out to have an agenda, the Chipmunks and Chipettes are in peril and then there’s a touching reunion.
THE BOTTOM LINE: On the cruise ship, Alvin leads the Chipmunks in dangerous hijinks. When they’re swept off the ship, things look briefly harrowing. There is a barf-bag joke.
Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. Teens who like action flicks won’t be disappointed by this fourth installment, even if they can’t quite follow the overlong plot trajectory. The Mission Impossible team — super-agent Ethan Hunt, computer whiz Benji Dunn and new addition Jane Carter — finds itself on a collision course with Russian intelligence and a rogue physicist. The three are falsely blamed for an explosion in the Kremlin, see their Cabinet-level boss murdered and are disavowed by the U.S. government. They must continue on their own to avert nuclear holocaust. They execute some amazing, eye-fooling tricks as the story moves from Budapest to Moscow to Dubai to Mumbai with barely a moment’s reflection.
THE BOTTOM LINE: This movie is deafening. Punches land with great, cracking thuds, and explosions and car chases could shatter eardrums. The dialogue includes rare mild profanity. The danger of nuclear war is a key plot point. Ethan was supposedly in prison for committing unauthorized hits against several Bosnians related to the death (before the film starts) of his wife.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. High-schoolers may lose patience with this sequel, which gets very ponderous in the middle and could lose their attention. It’s too violent for middle-schoolers. Holmes remains jealous of Watson’s marriage to Mary. This time the two find themselves in pursuit of the villain from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, Professor Moriarty, who is helping to rearm Germany some 20 years before World War I.
The bottom line: The film contains shattering bombings and other war weaponry, bone-crushing fights and poison darts. Characters smoke opium and tobacco, drink and occasionally use mild sexual innuendo.
New Year’s Eve. It’s unlikely that this movie will appeal to any but the most sentimental teens, and even they might lose patience with it. It’s Manhattan on New Year’s Eve. Two couples are vying for a $25,000 prize to whomever’s baby is born at midnight. Robert De Niro plays a man near death tended by a nurse. Sarah Jessica Parker is an overprotective single mom whose daughter wants to be with her friends in Times Square. Ashton Kutcher is a New Year’s-hating dude stuck in an elevator with a backup singer. And Hilary Swank, who is in charge of the Times Square ball, gets the sappiest hope-and-renewal speech.
The bottom line: The PG-13 is in the mild range. The script includes occasional midrange profanity and semi-crude sexual slang. Characters drink.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. With its cryptic dialogue, shadowy cinematography, and flashback-laced plot, this adaptation of John le Carre’s great Cold War spy novel will be a tough sell to high-schoolers. It is, however, a relatively mild R and okay for most teens 16 and older. It’s 1973. British intelligence, known as the Circus, is in trouble. An agent has been betrayed and shot in Hungary, and the head of the Circus, known as Control, is forced out, along with his trusted colleague, George Smiley. Control dies and Smiley is called out of retirement to root out a suspected double agent. “Tinker, Tailor” is highly watchable and yet often impenetrable. Some high-schoolers may welcome the challenge.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The movie includes a steamy and fairly explicit sexual situation, rare bursts of gun and fist violence, and occasional strong profanity. The infidelities of Smiley’s never-seen wife are discussed. Those 16 and older who take a real interest could read the book, which is terrific, or see the great 1979 miniseries starring Alec Guinness as Smiley.
A Dangerous Method. Only college students 17 and older are ready to handle the psychosexual theories discussed and the mildly sadomasochistic sexual situations portrayed in this handsomely wrought period drama. It focuses on the pioneers of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and the upstart analyst Carl Jung, debating ideas and nursing jealousies. Keira Knightley is a patient of Jung’s who was abused as a child and is now a guilt-ridden sexual masochist. After Jung psychoanalyzes her, they have an affair.
The bottom line: While not prurient, “A Dangerous Method” includes mildly sadomasochistic sexual situations with semi-nudity and explicit discussion of sexual behavior.
Horwitz is a freelance writer.