Wolfwalkers (PG)

Age 8+

Lush, lyrical Irish folk tale has dark moments, peril.

Wolfwalkers” is an Irish folk tale from the filmmakers behind “The Secret of Kells” and “Song of the Sea.” Set during England’s 17th-century occupation of Ireland, it explores the folk tales of the titular supernatural people, who are humans while awake but transform into wolves while their bodies are sleeping. Expect violent confrontations between English forces and the wolves/wolfwalkers, including a climactic battle with weapons in which people and wolves are injured or even die. A beloved pet is believed to be dead, and a young girl is separated from and extremely worried about her mother, who’s being held captive by an evil, intolerant villain. Another girl has to fight very hard to make her father listen to her. Despite its peril, this beautifully hand-drawn animated fantasy/adventure is ultimately a hopeful, if bittersweet, movie about what the enduring folk tales of Ireland represent. It promotes courage, empathy, perseverance and teamwork. There are social justice themes as well: The main character, an English girl named Robyn (voiced by Honor Kneafsey), starts to see how poorly the English treat Ireland’s people and environment. (103 minutes)

Now in theaters. Available Dec. 11 on Apple TV+.

Freaky (R)

Age 16+

Over-the-top, foul-mouthed slasher comedy goes for the gore.

Freaky” is a slasher flick/body-swap comedy starring Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn. It acknowledges and has fun with horror-movie cliches — in other words, teens who drink, have sex and bully others are definitely getting murdered. And those deaths seem to revel in being over the top: There’s lots of gore, and weapons include household items, chain saws and even a cursed knife. (When guns are used by the police, it’s feels like the movie’s tamest form of violence.) There’s no cutting away from any of this splatterfest — indeed, there’s usually a close-up of the gory wound. It’s intentionally campy and outrageous, meant to make viewers recoil while also laughing in shock with friends. Language is really strong (“c---,” “f---” and more), sometimes crude (“p---y”) and includes a rape joke made by a character who’s intended to be likable. Characters have sex (non-graphic), kiss, and drink, and one character with a substance dependency seeks to buy drugs. Amid all of the mayhem are messages about teamwork, strength coming from the inside and that true friends will stay by your side no matter what. (101 minutes)

Now in theaters.

I Am Greta (Unrated)


Age 10+

Intimate portrayal of global activist has valuable lessons.

I Am Greta” profiles Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager whose single-minded activism on climate change has transformed her into a globally recognized symbol of the movement. This documentary is more about the girl, her personality and how she’s dealt with her meteoric rise to fame than it is about the issue of climate change itself. Greta will be a role model to many young people, including kids with Asperger’s or autism spectrum disorder, shy or “different” kids who’ve struggled to fit in and those especially concerned about the urgent problem of climate change. She shows that through perseverance, courage and integrity, and with the hearty love and support of their parents, young people can make a difference. Other adults are seen on television and social media critiquing Greta in cruel and hurtful ways, including calling her “mentally ill” and a “brat.” Language includes “s---,” “a--” and “damn.” (97 minutes)

Available on Netflix.

Come Away (PG)


Age 11+

Peter Pan/Alice in Wonderland origin story has grief, peril.

Come Away” is a drama/adventure based on the premise that Alice of “Alice in Wonderland” and Peter Pan were siblings. It has fantasy violence and strong themes of loss and grief. Much of the action is played out through the imagination of Alice (Keira Chansa) and Peter (Jordan A. Nash). They have sword fights with pirates, sometimes resulting in characters being stabbed to death — but there’s no gore or bloodshed. One character’s hand gets cut off, landing in a crocodile’s mouth; it quickly grows back as a hook. A child drowns in front of a sibling and a photo of the dead child (lying in a coffin) is later seen. The child’s mother, Rose (Angelina Jolie), turns to alcohol in her grief, while the father, Jack (David Oyelowo), starts gambling and falls into debt. That leads to his hand being branded: It takes place off-screen, but the injury is seen. In one scene, Rose slaps Alice hard across the face. The Littleton family is multiracial, and there’s positive representation throughout the cast. Viewers may enjoy trying to spot the movie’s multiple references to “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan.” Despite these moments, the movie’s fantastical elements, and its positive messages around the value of curiosity and imagination, the theme of family loss is prevalent enough to make it too intense for little kids. (94 minutes)

Available on demand.

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