6 and older

The Lego Movie (PG). Kids 6 and older will have a blast at this animated 3-D comic adventure set in a Lego universe. Parents will grin at its dead-on spoof of modern life. Lego man Emmet, a worker at a construction site, has no thoughts of his own unless they’re in the rule book. His life turns upside down when he accidentally falls down a deep hole and encounters a glowing monolith. When he reemerges with a special red brick melded to his back, Emmet is identified as The Special, destined to become “the brightest, most talented, most interesting person in the universe” and to lead an uprising against the autocratic President Business. Business has secret plans to destroy the Lego universe. Resistance fighter Wyldstyle urges Emmet to think outside the box, but he doesn’t know how. After the climactic battle, the film takes a “real” turn to send home its message about kids and parents embracing creativity.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Bad Cop threatens to melt Emmet down, and President Business threatens to put his constituents “to sleep” if they don’t obey. Battles against President Business and his minions look like old video games, but they include Lego characters that morph like Transformers.


Non-Stop. High-schoolers who don’t mind their action heroes a little haggard can get an adrenaline jolt from this formulaic flick as it pushes our post-9/11 fear buttons, including racial profiling, and then debunks a few of them. “Non-Stop” is a tad violent for middle-schoolers. Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) may be an air marshal, but he still grips the arm rest during takeoff on his London flight. Soon after, threatening text messages start popping up on his phone. The anonymous texter is on the plane and knows who Bill is, though air marshals travel undercover. The texter warns that he’ll kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless he gets $150 million. As tension builds and deaths occur, the texter incriminates Bill as the bad guy. Bill must hunt for the killer among people who don’t trust him. The finale is not for nervous flyers.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The violence isn’t bloody, but it involves neck-breaking, head-banging, pistol-whipping, shooting and an explosion. Characters drink and use a few moderate swear words. A subplot involves illegal drugs.

The Wind Rises. There will always be kids who fall in love with airplanes. This film is for them, or at least for those who are 10 and older. It’s also for kids who know that animation can be a high art. Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki sets his tale in the Japan of the 1920s and ’30s, leading up to World War II. His hero, Jiro, is a composite of airplane designer Jiro Horikoshi, who designed the Zero fighters used by Japan in the war, and a writer of the same period, Tatsuo Hori. Single-minded in his passion for planes, Jiro seems barely aware of the militarist government for which he’s designing a fighter. (The Academy Award-nominated film has taken hits for a perceived uncritical view of Japan in that period.) Jiro’s love for the ailing Nahoko is the only thing that pulls him from his drawing board or the airfields.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Nightmare images of flying warships in a roiling sky and other battle scenes, while they show no injuries, could unsettle kids younger than 10. One character has a terminal illness. Everyone smokes.

3 Days to Kill. Picturesque European streets and zippy car chases don’t hide the fact that this thriller, starring Kevin Costner as a sick-and-tired CIA spy, makes no sense. Relatively gore-free, yet too coldly violent for middle-schoolers, it may divert high-schoolers at matinee prices. Costner plays Ethan, a ragged agent who learns he is terminally ill, retires and heads home to Paris, hoping to reconnect with his estranged wife and teenage daughter. Just as he’s poised to win them over, Ethan is waylaid by an agent who offers him an experimental drug in return for killing a list of terrorists holed up in Paris. The drug gives him palpitations and hallucinations.

THE BOTTOM LINE: There are point-blank gun deaths, bone-crushing fights, implied beheadings, explosions and gun battles on wheels. The film makes light of Ethan’s use of torture. The language features rare midrange profanity. Scantily clad club dancers move suggestively and there is other, moderately steamy, sometimes comic, sexual innuendo. Adults drink. 


About Last Night. Trash-talking and lovemaking at hyper-speeds, Kevin Hart and Regina Hall are hilarious as Bernie and Joan, who hook up in a bar and have scorching sexual chemistry but are afraid to fall in love. Joan and Bernie’s best friends, Debbie and Danny, are quieter people who meet through their pals and fall slowly in love. But both couples fall out. What works best in “About Last Night” is exactly what makes it inappropriate for viewers younger than 17: the loud, lascivious adventures of Joan and Bernie.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Adults only, due to constant crude and highly explicit sexual language. There are explicit sexual situations, some with partial nudity. Characters drink a lot and use steaming nonsexual profanity, too.

Horwitz is a freelance writer.