Kids 8 and older
The Mighty Macs (95 min., G) A docudrama about the basketball team at Immaculata College, an all-girl Catholic school in Philadelphia, circa 1971, and how a new coach (Carla Gugino) turned the program around. Some of the drills she has the girls do are a little dangerous, such as sidestepping through a watery culvert at night.
Kids 10 and older
The Big Year (103 min. PG) Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson are obsessed bird-watchers. The comedy includes very occasional mild profanity and epithets, plus a crude hand gesture that involves a different sort of “bird.’’
Dolphin Tale (112 min., PG) A disabled dolphin named Winter learns to swim with a prosthetic tail and gives inspiration to wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Some kids may be upset by the sight of the dolphin’s injured tail. Kids may also need help with the sight of injured veterans missing arms or legs and using prosthetic ones.
Johnny English Reborn (101 min., PG) Rowan Atkinson is back as the bumbling spy. There’s some crude humor and much slapstick mayhem with guns, martial arts, and crotch kicks.
The middle ground
Contagion (105 min., PG-13) This medical procedural starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon shows how easily a lethal new virus can get around this jet-traveled globe. People have seizures and foam at the mouth. We see the start of an autopsy, with a scalp being cut open and folded over the corpse’s face. The script includes rare profanity.
Footloose (113 min., PG-13) Dance is forbidden in a small Georgia town, until a Boston-born outsider comes along, dancing up a storm. The script includes plenty of crude and semi-crude sexual slang and innuendo, frequent use of the S-word, and occasional gross epithets. Some of the dancing is sexually suggestive. A teen smokes pot.
Moneyball (126 min., PG-13) Brad Pitt is Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane in this adaptation of Michael Lewis’s best-selling account of the new age in putting together a baseball team. The script includes occasional profanity and sexual innuendo.
Real Steel (126 min., PG-13) In this relatively middle-of-the-road PG-13 starring Hugh Jackman, battered robots smack one another around. In the only human-on-human mayhem, Jackman gets beaten by several guys. The script includes occasional mild-to-midrange profanity.
Drive (100 min., R) Ryan Gosling plays a getaway man for robbers who runs afoul of some gangsters. The film is an odd mix of high-art cinema and exploitative mayhem. Its violence is stunningly gruesome. The profanity is very strong and includes ethnic slurs. The film shows topless dancers.
The Ides of March (101 min., R) In addition to scalding profanity, this political film about a presidential candidate (George Clooney) and a campaign aide (Ryan Gosling) includes a nongraphic sexual situation, promiscuity and marital-infidelity themes, a subplot about abortion, and a possible suicide.
Margin Call (109 min., R) An inside portrayal of a Wall Street firm cracking under stress and flouting ethical standards to survive. There’s continuous cussing and a brief discussion of suicide.
Take Shelter (120 min., R) This rather mild R is not for most high schoolers. Michael Shannon is a blue-collar oil-rig worker who starts to have terrible nightmares and fears he’s becoming ill with paranoid-schizophrenia. The script includes occasional strong profanity. Shannon’s character takes too many sleeping pills and has a seizure.
The Thing (103 min., R) Scientists in Antarctica discover an alien spacecraft buried beneath the ice and a frozen, seemingly long dead, alien. The film shows skulls and bodies cracked open. This is strong stuff.
Jane Horwitz, Washington Post Writers Group.