OK for 10 and older
'We Bought a Zoo'
(Drama, PG, 124 minutes)
This is a holiday movie worth rooting for. Directed by the cinema's last great romantic, Cameron Crowe, it features cute tykes, young romance and a grownup grieving for a lost love, adorable animals and the comically crotchety Thomas Haden Church. Matt Damon stars as Benjamin Mee, widower and father of two who decides to buy a little zoo out in the country. "We Bought a Zoo," with adult themes and dissonant bursts of profanity, kid-friendly romp, and stumbles when it reaches for emotional highs and lows.
Info for Parents: Rated PG for language and thematic elements
'The Adventures of Tintin'
(Animated, PG, 107 minutes)
Watching "The Adventures of Tintin" gives you the same thrill you felt when you saw "Toy Story" for the first time: Here is a next-gen animated film that builds on everything that has come before to create something new and exciting. In his first foray into animation, director Steven Spielberg uses the technology to achieve something that could be described as cartoonish photo-realism - the images look like impossibly beautiful hand-drawn photographs - and then frees his camera from all earthly constraints. And the 3-D! Spielberg is the third big-name director (after Wim Wenders and Martin Scorsese) to give the gimmick a try this year, and the results are so extraordinary, they make you wonder if 3-D is a good idea, after all. The character of Tintin (played by Jamie Bell), an intrepid reporter who looks like a boy but actually is a man, is a beloved icon around the world but not that well-known in the U.S. The story here is a bit hard to follow, which makes the film feel more than a little frivolous. But there isn't a moment in the movie when you're not staring at the screen in wonder. "The Adventures of Tintin" will seem frenetic and exhausting to some viewers, but the movie's relentless pace is a big part of its charm.
Info for Parents: Rated PG for mock violence
'One for the Money'
A proud, born-and-bred Jersey girl, Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl) is desperate for some fast cash. She turns to her last resort: convincing her sleazy cousin to give her a job at his bail-bonding company ... as a recovery agent. So, she takes on Vinny's biggest bail-jumper: former vice cop and murder suspect Joe Morelli - the same sexy, irresistible Joe Morelli who dumped her back in high school.
Rating: Not yet reviewed
Info for parents: Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual references and language, some drug material and partial nudity
The famed Tuskegee Airmen get the John Wayne-style heroic rendering they very much deserve, but also a hackneyed and weirdly context-less story that does them a disservice. George Lucas' pet project has the laudable goal of proving all-black movies can be a success, but "Red Tails" reduces a historical story of deep cultural significance to merely a flyboy flick. The film, directed by TV veteran Anthony Hemingway, superimposes the tale of the black World War II pilots on a dated, white genre of 1940s patriotic propaganda. "Red Tails" is blatantly old-fashioned, just with a change in color. It focuses entirely on aerial combat in Europe, skipping all that pesky backstory of black men braving the segregation of Jim Crowe America and, against the odds, rising up at the Tuskegee Institute. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard play higher-ups, but the film is centered on a band of pilots, particularly the brash, talented Joe "Lightning" Little (David Oyelowo) and his alcoholic captain Marty "Easy" Julian (Nate Parker). The script, by John Ridley and Boondocks cartoonist Aaron McGruder is swaggering but hopelessly corny and curiously avoids really fleshing out the Tuskegee Airmen's other battle front: racism at home. The dogfights, though, are elegant and clearly staged, set against a majestic European landscape.
Info for Parents: Rated PG-13 for some sequences of war violence
'Man on a Ledge'
Sam Worthington ("Avatar") broke out of prison just days before, an ex-cop standing on that ledge, proclaiming his innocence and demanding that the most unstable negotiator on the NYPD (Elizabeth Banks) clock in to talk him down. We realize, long before the cops, that this is no mere suicide. Nick Cassidy, standing on that ledge, is drawing attention and coordinating a heist as he does it.
Info for Parents: Rated PG-13 for violence, brief strong language
(Comedy, Musical, PG-13,
"Joyful Noise" is a funny and inspirational story of music, hope, love and renewal. The small town of Pacashau, Georgia, has fallen on hard times, but the people are counting on the Divinity Church Choir to lift their spirits by winning the National Joyful Noise Competition. The choir has always known how to sing in harmony, but the discord between its two leading ladies now threatens to tear them apart. Their newly appointed director, Vi Rose Hill (Queen Latifah), stubbornly wants to stick with their tried-and-true traditional style, while the fiery G.G. Sparrow (Parton) thinks tried-and-true translates to tired-and-old. Shaking things up even more is the arrival of G.G.'s rebellious grandson, Randy (Jeremy Jordan). Randy has an ear for music, but he also has an eye for Vi Rose's beautiful and talented daughter, Olivia (Keke Palmer), and the sparks between the two teenagers are causing even more friction between G.G. and Vi Rose. If these two strong-willed women can put aside their differences for the good of the people in their town, they and their choir may make the most joyful noise of all.
Info for parents: PG-13 for some language including a sexual reference
(Drama, PG-13, 146 minutes)
Men on opposing sides of war find their shared humanity in their love of animals in "War Horse," Steven Spielberg's sentimental epic about a country thoroughbred who travels from the fields of Devonshire to the trenches of the Somme in World War I. The film is a tale told on a vast canvas, with a wide array of characters - each of whom develops a connection to "Joey," one of the prettiest equines ever to grace the silver screen. But that crowded hodge-podge of characters fritters away the potential poignancy as we're taken away from the story's heart and soul - a boy and his horse. This "War Horse" does well by war and justice to the horse. It's the people who are shortchanged.
Info for Parents: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence
'Mission Impossible -
(Action, PG-13, 132 minutes)
They've done without the number this time, but anyone who cares knows that "Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol" is really "Mission Impossible 4," the fourth time Tom Cruise's intrepid Ethan Hunt has taken on the evildoers of the world. Brad Bird makes his live-action debut after directing three exceptional animated films: "Ratatouille," "The Incredibles" and "Iron Giant." Bird has done a stylish and involving job here, turning in an entertaining production that's got considerable visual flair, especially in its action-heavy Imax sections. There are only 27 minutes of IMAX footage in the film, but every one of those minutes counts, which is one reason why Paramount chose to open this film in IMAX theaters five days before its general release.
Info for Parents: Rated PG-13 for intense action and violence
(Action/Horror, R, 89 minutes)
After sitting out the last one, Kate Beckinsdale returns to the werewolf-vs-vampire franchise she helped make famous, this time joining forces with her lycanthrope pals to bag the most dangerous game of all: humans.
Info for Parents: Rated R for strong violence, gore and some language
(Thirller, R, 117 minutes)
After the thrillers "Taken" and "Unknown," Liam Neeson is back in his new genre of choice, looking quite at home punching a wolf. As the grizzled, morose sniper John Ottway, he's among a roughneck band of Alaskan oil refinery workers who, while being shuttled by plane to Anchorage for vacation, crash violently in a storm, stranding them in the snowy tundra. Ottway, the alpha dog, takes charge among the seven survivors (among them Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts and, most memorably, Frank Grillo) whose predicament severely worsens when a pack of wolves announce themselves by their eerie, glowing eyes on the dark fringes of their campfire. Director Joe Carnahan ("The A-Team," "Narc"), adapting a short story by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, sends their dwindling numbers on a survivalist adventure that grows increasingly bleak and existential. In manly, fireside chats, they parse out philosophical ideas, talking God in a wintery void, faced with the cruel brutality of nature.
Info for parents: Rated R for violence/disturbing content including bloody images, and for pervasive language