It's The Wizard of Oz, so you know of the deathly horrors that await: the Wicked Witch of the West, that dark ominous corridor, those flying monkeys. I'm a grown woman and I'm still afraid of the flying monkeys, so I can only imagine how much more terrifying they'd be in 3-D on that giant IMAX screen. I'd pondered taking my son, who's almost 4, to see it over the weekend but was advised by three different moms (two of whom are pediatricians) that he's still too young for such an experience. So parents, maybe wait until your kids are age 5 or 6 - and show it to them at home, first, where they can hide comfortably behind the coffee table.
Rating: PG-13, for sexual content, some thematic material and brief language.
James Gandolfini is lovely in writer-director Nicole Holofcener's midlife romantic comedy -- gentle, sweet and self-deprecating -- but the fact that this was his last performance before dying of a heart attack this summer makes it that much more poignant. Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus co-star as a couple of divorced, single parents in Los Angeles who fall for each other with some eventual complications. There's no real nudity but we do see them in bed together, and Louis-Dreyfus shares some frank sex talk with a couple of her friends (played by Toni Collette and Catherine Keener) as well as her teenage daughter and her best friend.
Rating: PG, for mild action, some scary images and brief rude humor.
So I can only speak to the first hour so of this film, because that's the point at which my son, who was then 3 ½, decided he was scared and wanted to leave. Apply that tidbit as you will to your own children of that age. Much of the imagery in this 3-D animated adventure is colorful and wondrous, as tiny creatures are fighting a battle of good and evil within a secret universe in the forest. The scenery can be vibrant and verdant, but when the bad guys are on screen, the skies turn dark and the surroundings become harsher. (This should come as no surprise given that Christoph Waltz voices the lead villain.) Suitable for nearly all ages.
Rating: PG-13, for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images.
One of the most graphic PG-13 movies I've ever seen. A pandemic sweeps the globe, turning people into convulsing, flailing, ravenous zombies within seconds. Heavy-duty gunfire, pandemonium and a general obliteration of civilized society as we know it ensues. And only Brad Pitt, as a former investigator for the United Nations, can stop the madness. This is an incredibly stressful film to watch. But the imagery may look familiar, and perhaps not all that frightening, for pre-teens who've played a lot of first-person-shooter video games.
Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements, violence, some disturbing images, sexual content and partial nudity.
There is a healthy amount of naked Alexander Skarsgard in this movie. Not that anyone's complaining, but FYI, it exists. Actually, this thriller features quite a few creepy, sexualized rituals as an undercover corporate agent (Brit Marling) infiltrates a cult of eco-activist anarchists. Some disturbing imagery appears at the film's start -- birds and sea life that have been the victims of massive oil spills, for example -- followed by violent acts scattered throughout as this underground group gets its theatrical revenge.
Rating: PG-13, for some violence and sexual references.
The classic piece of Chicano literature that inspired this film also has inspired some serious controversy since its publication in 1972. Some church groups and parents have decried Rudolfo Anaya's novel as anti-Catholic or too profane and pushed to have it banned from school districts across the country. The film itself, though, is a mostly gentle and tastefully photographed depiction of a young boy's coming of age in rural 1940s New Mexico. His maturation includes a questioning of the Catholic faith of his parents and a curiosity about the Native American mysticism of his elders. But such musings feel more like an inherent part of the progression into adolescence than an intentionally subversive force.