Ghostbusters: Afterlife (PG-13)

Age 10+

Playful paranormal sequel offers funny frights for families.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is a follow-up to the beloved “Ghostbusters” franchise as a frighteningly good comedy adventure about kids ridding a town of ghosts. This installment takes place decades after the events of the original and was written to appeal to kids (including a self-possessed tween girl scientist leading the charge), who don’t need to have seen the original to enjoy this one. But longtime fans will be rewarded with a basketful of Easter eggs and cameos from all the original, living Ghostbusters: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson. (Harold Ramis died in 2014.) Count on seeing ghosts both funny and fearsome; keep in mind that special effects have improved since 1984, and what didn’t scare you as a kid might be more frightening through the lens of modern technology. There are references to virginity (without an explanation of what that term means) and a couple of other sexual insinuations that will likely go over most kids’ heads. You can also expect a few swear words (“a--hole,” “s---”). Still, this is definitely a more family-friendly film than the original, with themes of friendship, forgiveness and redemption. Watch through the end of the credits for an extra treat. (124 minutes)

In theaters.

King Richard (PG-13)

Age 13+

Winning biopic of tennis stars’ dad has language, violence.

King Richard” is a moving, entertaining sports biopic about Richard Williams (Will Smith), the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams. Dialogue includes swearing
(“s---,” “hell,” and “a--”), as well as slurs including the n-word. There are also scenes of gang violence and racial violence, and a minor character is shot and killed on screen. Brands such as Nike, Puma, Reebok and Fila are mentioned. With themes of perseverance, courage, gratitude and humility, the film successfully offers a positive representation of a Black family and focuses on Richard’s attempts to be a better father than the one he had growing up. (144 minutes)

In theaters; also available on HBO Max.

Red Notice (PG-13)

Age 14+

Language, violence in global cat-and-mouse caper.

Red Notice ” is a globe-trotting action adventure starring Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, and Dwayne Johnson. Expect lots of action violence: Characters fight, kick, punch and hit, and they get strangled, tied up, electrocuted, chased and tossed by a bull and poisoned. They fall from great heights, get shot at, shoot at others and are chased on foot, in cars and by air. There are bombs, explosions, fires and car crashes. A bridge collapses under a person, and people are left wounded or unconscious. A character is said to have a penchant for strangling others ever since his dad tried to strangle him at 14; he later says he killed his dad by gunshot. There’s very brief mention of suicide and “black sites.” Nazis and Nazi symbols play a role. Language includes “f---,” “s---,” “bulls---,” “b----,” “son of a b----,” “a--,” “a--hole,” “penis,” “d---head” “dipd---.” It appears that prison guards’ shirts read HOMO backward. There are some jokes about penises and mention of an erection, as well as other sexual innuendoes. A man says he could make a deepfake video of someone “mouth-sexing a goat.” Characters all seem to have father issues. (118 minutes)

In theaters; also available on Netflix.

The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star (TV-G)

Streaming

Age 8+

Positive messages, language, peril in holiday threequel.

Vanessa Hudgens is back — as three characters — in “The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star. Two are sweet, generous and extremely wealthy royalty; the third is naughty cousin Fiona, who’s serving time doing not-very-hard labor in a convent. Fiona is flirtatious with every man, and there’s some sexual innuendo. A man tries to get a woman up to his room with expensive gifts after a sexy tango dance. And there are several chaste kisses between couples, mostly married. Characters drink alcohol and make jokes about Santa’s elves smoking too much mistletoe and someone spiking the eggnog. Language includes “damn it,” “damned,” “hell,” “devil,” “wretched,” “idiot” and “dear god.” Characters put themselves in danger to retrieve a valuable stolen antiquity, but only minor injuries are involved. The main characters represent different races and nationalities, and the film has positive messages about forgiveness, family, love and marriage.
(106 minutes)

Available on Netflix.

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