Ages 8 and up
Hotel Transylvania (90 min., PG) An animated feature about a hostelry built by none other than Dracula. Its clientele are monsters. Kids under 8 may flinch at seeing vampires turn into bats, and to see the likes of Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy, and the Fly, as well as blobs, skeletons, shrunken heads and more. Some of the monsters lose heads or limbs while roughhousing and then re-attach them. There are jokes about drinking blood. Though he’s sworn off violence, Dracula does have a temper, and his face goes scarily red while he seethes.
The middle ground
10 Years (100 min, PG-13) It’s 10th-reunion time for high school classmates Rosario Dawson and Channing Tatum. The reunion-goers really booze it up. A few smoke pot. One of the women turns out to be an unwed mother twice over. The script includes fairly strong cussing for a PG-13. A bullying theme has an uncomfortable ring of truth to it.
House at the End of the Street (100 min., PG13) This ghost story starring Jennifer Lawrence includes violence and implications of insanity and abuse that make it a very problematic choice for middle-schoolers. Adults smoke what appears to be crack.
Liberal Arts (97 min., unrated) Josh Radnor, who wrote and directed, plays a 35-year-old who returns to his old college to attend his favorite professor’s retirement celebration. The dialogue features occasional crude sexual language and profanity. One student attempts suicide with a pill overdose. The one sexual situation involves mildly graphic sounds, but shows nothing.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (103 min, PG-13)
Stephen Chbosky adapted and directs this film made from his novel about high school and its discontents. Several scenes show teens drinking and using pot and LSD. A quick flashback strongly implies that a small child was molested by an older relative. Other scenes flash back to a violent car accident, and someone with wrists scarred by a suicide attempt. There are hospital scenes that portray mental illness. The dialogue includes homophobic slurs, crude sexual slang, and sexual innuendo.
Pitch Perfect (88 min., PG-13) Anna Kendrick stars in this film about college a cappella groups. Lighthearted patter about sexuality and women’s body parts makes the film too adult for a lot of middle-schoolers. The dialogue features considerable crude language, some profanity, frequent use of rhymes-with-witch, and lots of pure snarkiness. Ethnic stereotypes abound, used for comic effect. A long scene in the dorm shower implies nudity, but with little sexual innuendo. Projectile vomiting? Yup.
Trouble With the Curve (111 min., PG-13) Clint Eastwood plays an aging baseball scout, Gus. Amy Adams is his daughter, Mickey. The dialogue features a lot of crude, occasionally profane language, most of it well in PG-13 territory. Characters use some sexual slang and innuendo, also fairly mild, as well as toilet humor. When Mickey and Gus finally talk about their longtime estrangement, the scene feels very emotional and real.
Won’t Back Down (119 min., PG) A teacher (Viola Davis) and a mom (Maggie Gyllenhaal) join forces to take over a failing Pittsburgh elementary school. The mom and her boyfriend have some steamy kisses.
Dredd 3D (98 min., R) Karl Urban plays the the title character, who originated in a British comic-book series. There is so much bloody, point-blank, high-caliber gun death that the film is not for under-17s. Children and innocent families are shown at risk and dying in deafening and graphic shootouts. The bad guys are selling a new drug called Slo-Mo that creates a slow-motion high. The movie includes strong profanity and graphic sexual fantasies.
End of Watch (109 min., R) Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena play Los Angeles cops. The point-blank gun violence and gut punches feel so realistic that the film can be hard to watch. The partners encounter scenes in which very small children are put at risk. They also see many dead bodies stashed inside homes used by drug dealers, and they find undocumented workers locked in cages, seemingly enslaved by human traffickers. The dialogue includes graphic sexual slang and steaming profanity. Various characters use drugs and engage in semi-explicit sexual situations.
Looper (118 min., R) “Looping” is a form of time-travel crime-fighting. In addition to graphic, body-shattering violence and occasional torture, the film shows partially nude prostitutes and includes some strong profanity.
The Master (137 min., R) It’s 1950, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the head of a religious cult, and Joaquin Phoenix is one of his disciples. Paul Thomas Anderson’s first movie since “There Will Be Blood” includes sudden outbursts of nonlethal physical violence, very strong profanity, very heavy drinking, a couple of graphically implied sexual situations, and female nudity.