By Jane Horwitz
Special to The Washington Post.
Ages 6 and older
"Rio 2" (G): The animated adventures of a South American blue macaw, aptly named Blu, and his mate, Jewel, continue in this richly colored and pleasurable sequel. It's still fun, but perhaps not quite as sparkling in its humor and inventiveness as the original. Once again, the macaws face both avian and human villains, but nothing too intense for most kids age 6 and older. With their three fledglings, Blu and Jewel lead a quiet life in Rio, but Jewel worries that they've become too domesticated. So it's off to the Amazon jungle to put their offspring in touch with nature, much to the citified Blu's dismay. In the jungle, Blu and Jewel learn they're not the only blue macaws left. They meet a whole flock, thought to have been wiped out. Linda and Tulio, their human protectors, learn this, too, but are detained by villains who poach rare birds and cut down trees.
The bottom line: Men operating bulldozers start mowing down trees in the rain forest, which some small children might find disturbing.
Ages 8 and older
"Bears" (G): Nature cinematographers got incredibly intimate footage of a mother bear, whom they named Sky, and her cubs, Amber and Scout, for this Disneynature documentary. They followed the trio for a year on the wild Alaskan Peninsula, as they awake from hibernation, search for scarce food in the melting snow, feast on salmon in summer and then head back to dig a winter den. The cubs are adorable and Sky takes good care of them, but there are moments that may be too intense and seemingly fraught with peril for viewers younger than 8, and even some older kids.
The bottom line: A stretch of the film, when the salmon aren't running and the bears are desperately hungry, could upset younger kids. In another segment, Sky confronts hostile male bears and a wolf stalking her cubs for food. No animals (except torn-up salmon and clams) are hurt on camera.
Ages 10 and older
"Heaven Is for Real" (PG): This film is better for kids 10 and older because it deals in questions of faith and nonbelief, and because it shows a child ill and in danger of dying. Todd Burpo, a cheerful contractor and church pastor struggling through the bad economy in the heartland, nearly loses his 4-year-old son, Colton, to a burst appendix. (The movie is based on Burpo's memoir.) Though Colton does not die on the operating table, he later tells his parents that he visited heaven, met Jesus and chatted with a great-grandfather. Todd, nicely played by Greg Kinnear, is a devout Christian, but has trouble believing that Colton's account is more than a dream.
The bottom line: Scenes of Colton on the operating table, and of his desperate parents praying nearby, are very emotional.
"The Other Woman": "The Other Woman" is too sex-focused for middle-schoolers, even though it is not explicit and the language is generally mild. For high-schoolers on up, it is a riotously clever, if cynical, farce about women's revenge against a serial philanderer. Cameron Diaz plays Carly, a hotshot lawyer who starts a passionate relationship with the handsome Mark, assuming he's also single. When she appears at his door, she meets his unsuspecting wife, Kate. Carly immediately stops seeing Mark, but Kate has no idea how to proceed, so she seeks Carly's advice. The hardbitten lawyer and Kate become unlikely friends. They learn more about Mark's secret life and decide he needs to be punished. Teaming with his latest 20-something girlfriend, they exact physical (hair remover in his shampoo, estrogen in his health shake, laxatives in his drink) and financial revenge.
The bottom line: The many bedroom scenes are never graphic, yet quite steamy, with the women in skimpy clothing. There is much discussion of sex, though it is non-explicit. Characters drink and occasionally vomit. The script features infrequent mild to midrange profanity.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier": It's good to stop and consider one's moral options, even in an action movie, but this sequel does too much of that, unfolding in fits and starts. Teen fans of Marvel Comics films will savor it anyway because of its winning characters and sharp repartee. They'll forgive the slow bits and the hardware-heavy special effects. Captain America, a.k.a. Steve Rogers, played as a classic all-American hero by Chris Evans, has been thawed out and awakened from his long sleep after World War II. Now it's the near future of our 21st century. Steve has a crisis of conscience over his boss, Nick Fury, the head of the secret agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and the violent methods he uses. Suddenly, Steve doesn't know whom to trust as Fury is sidelined and a government bigwig may not prove reliable. So Steve teams with Natasha, a.k.a. the Black Widow, and Sam Wilson, a.k.a. Falcon, to find the truth and, incidentally, save humankind.
The bottom line: High-speed chases punctuated by deafening gun battles and other explosions earn the PG-13 rating, though fatalities are portrayed bloodlessly unless they involve important characters. The script includes occasional use of the S-word and gently implied sexual innuendo.