Family movie guide

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 21, 2011

‘Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows’Rated: PG-13.
Best for: Tweens and up.
What you should know: Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law reunite with director Guy Ritchie for a second pumped-up version of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. In this sequel to their 2009 hit, the playful banter, snarky retorts and body count are high as the Arthur Conan Doyle characters are hot on the trail of the detective’s nemesis, the sadistic and clever Moriarty (Jared Harris).
Language: Some suggestive language, but nothing obscene.
Sexual situations and nudity: Characters kiss. Holmes, disguised as a woman, interrupts Dr. Watson’s honeymoon. A naked man is seen from behind.
Violence, scary situations: A villain attempts to start a world war, sparking violence throughout. As a result, loved ones perish or are threatened and people are killed or maimed in seemingly every way imaginable, from poisoned drinks and darts to bombings. A man holds a gun to his head and his suicide happens off camera. Bodies are seen in the aftermath of an explosion. Hand-to-hand combat is presented in stylized, up-close fashion and leaves participants bloodied. A character is tortured while impaled with a hook, shot at and (spoiler) revived with a shot of adrenaline to the chest … there’s more, but you get the point.
Alcohol and drug use: Alcoholic beverages of all sorts flow freely in several scenes; Dr. Watson gets drunk on the eve of his wedding.
‘Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol’
Rated: PG-13.
Best for: High school students and older.
What you should know: This is the fourth movie inspired by the TV show and starring Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. This time around, it’s all about high-flying stunts and new team members played by Simon Pegg, Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner.
Language: A handful of mild four-letter words.
Sexual situations and nudity: Other than a passionate kiss and some fruitless flirtation, none.
Violence, scary situations: In addition to the threat of nuclear annihilation, some people are shot, stabbed or fall to their deaths, while others are just knocked out. Fights and fires break out in a prison, and there are explosions, car chases and a massive dust storm, along with talk about retaliatory killings.
Alcohol and drug use: Adults settle their nerves with some whiskey, party guests guzzle champagne and old friends meet over beer.
‘New Year’s Eve’
Rated: PG-13.
Best for: Tweens and up.
What you should know: Garry Marshall applies his “Valentine’s Day” formula to New Year’s Eve, with interwoven stories and an all-star cast led by Hilary Swank, Katherine Heigl, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry, Jon Bon Jovi and many others. The setting this time is New York, where the Times Square ball is scheduled to drop.
Language: One use of the f-word, a couple of mild four-letter words and a crude term for “posterior.”
Sexual situations and nudity: Characters kiss, a grandfatherly stranger uses a coarse word for “sex” and there are brief references to casual sex and watching porn. A teenage girl lifts her shirt to flash her bra to her mother. Some flirtatious women make their availability clear to a man at a party. Plus, two women go into labor.
Violence, scary situations: A minor auto accident happens and a woman is nearly hit by a car and tumbles into some garbage bags at curbside. A woman slaps a man across the face a couple of times and, in the saddest twist, a character dies off camera.
Alcohol and drug use: Champagne, in particular, is poured and consumed.
‘The Muppets’Rated: PG.Best for: Preschoolers and older children who can sit attentively through a 98-minute movie and not disturb others.
What you should know: Characters, including Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and Miss Piggy, reunite to try to save their old studio in Hollywood. Humans — played by Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper and a half-dozen stars in cameos — mix with Muppets, and one even has a puppet for a brother, which is never explained. It’s fun and filled with music and very clean, with the rating due to mild rude humor such as “fart shoes,” which make noise when someone walks. An amusing short called “Small Fry,” featuring the “Toy Story” gang, precedes the movie.
Language: None.
Sexual situations and nudity: A couple have been dating for 10 years, but their courtship is PG clean.
Violence, scary situations: A puppet hits an electric fence and is singed, fists fly, a man is kidnapped and lashed to a chair with rope, a couple of characters tumble from roofs but ultimately are unhurt, a fencing foil is thrust into a TV screen and an explosion happens off camera. One Muppet falls on hard times and is living in an alley where he’s exposed to rain and scary noises, not to mention a male Miss Piggy impersonator.
Alcohol and drug use: None.
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (www.scrippshoward.com)

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