Parental Guidance: Free Birds and Last Vegas, Plus Monsters University and R.I.P.D.

We give you what you need to know about the family-friendliness of this week's new releases.

In Theaters This Week:

Free Birds

18%

Rating: PG, for some action/peril and rude humor.

Owen Wilson lends his distinctive, nasal twang to the voice of Reggie, a turkey who realizes he and his brethren are all being fattened up to become the main course for Thanksgiving feasts. He and a very intense, muscular turkey named Jake (Woody Harrelson) travel back in time to the first Thanksgiving to keep their kind off the menu for good. There's a ton of stuff going on in this animated adventure -- characters, subplots, themes, antics -- none of which is terribly funny or thrilling. The kids at the screening I attended were uncharacteristically low-key and seemed unengaged. There's nothing offensive or inappropriate here -- a big battle scene is mere spectacle. And a half-hearted metaphor in which the film likens turkey slaughter to the plight of Native Americans will probably go over kids' heads.

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Last Vegas

47%

Rating: PG-13, or sexual content and language.

I can't really imagine why you'd want to take your kids to this comedy about a quartet of 70-year-olds (Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline) who reunite in Las Vegas for a bachelor party. But if for some reason your family is at the multiplex and you need to find something you can all watch, this would probably be fine for tweens and up. There are the obligatory Viagra jokes and a subplot about sanctioned cheating. The guys judge a bikini contest by the pool and enjoy a wild night of drinking and partying at a nightclub. And Kline's character lets loose with one big, loud, well-timed F-bomb. Surprisingly, the movie itself is funnier and not as hacky as it looks, largely because the four stars bring such great presence to their roles.

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New On DVD:

Monsters University

78%

Rating: G.

Tiny, lime-green Mikey (voiced by Billy Crystal) and big, blue Sulley (John Goodman) are back together again in this prequel to the 2001 Pixar hit Monsters, Inc. The movie introduces us to how Mikey and Sulley met during their freshman year in college and studied to be the master scarers they eventually become. Speaking of scares, there aren't too many in this lively, colorful, family-friendly comedy; my son, Nicolas, was 3 when I took him to see this and he did just fine. The dean of the scaring school -- an intimidating, centipede-like creature voiced by Helen Mirren -- might frighten the littlest viewers as she swoops through the air and then scampers about on her sharp claws. The rest of the monsters are goofy, or furry, or squishy, and thoroughly adorable and clever.

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R.I.P.D.

13%

Rating: PG-13, for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality and language including sex references.

This inferior version of Men in Black finds Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as mismatched buddy cops who've been killed in the line of duty during different centuries. They're forced to work together in a sort of purgatory to prevent the dead from taking over the living world. Based on a graphic novel, R.I.P.D. features grotesque and menacing creatures who transform before our eyes. They're disgusting to look at but are never really scary, partly because the 3-D conversion looks so messy. There's also quite a bit of gunfire but it's of the cartoonish variety coming from souped-up, supernatural weaponry.

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Comments

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Nov 4 - 04:15 PM

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