Reviews: What's New This Week
Here's a look at what's new in family entertainment as adapted from reviews and ratings by Common Sense Media. Click on the links to read the reviews in full.
New in Theaters: The Spy Next Door
Guns are drawn but no blood is spilled in "The Spy Next Door," an action-packed comedy starring Jackie Chan. With a convoluted plot involving a babysitting CIA operative, the jokes are mostly physical and the language is mild. Chan's impressive stunt work and the kids-as-heroes angle is probably enough to keep young grade schoolers interested. Rated PG, OK for Kids 8+
As you might expect, 2009's "Fame" is raunchier, edgier and sexier than the 1980 original. Featuring a diverse and talented cast, the film follows the lives of a group of ambitious teens chasing their dreams at the prestigious High School for the Performing Arts. The movie strives for realism by featuring lots of underage drinking, crude language and plenty of sexual situations. Rated PG, Iffy for Kids 12-14.
TV: Big Time Rush
After being discovered by a music executive, four teenage boys head to Hollywood to chase their dreams of stardom in "Big Time Rush." The kids are nice enough but have a tendency to use manipulation to get what they want from the clueless adults around them. Played for laughs, the friends learn to live their lives in the fast lane while staying true to their Midwest roots. Rated TV-G, OK for Kids 7+
By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead
Written by Julie Peters, "By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead" is a dark tale about a young girl on the brink of suicide. A victim of sexual assault and bullying, the teen turns to an online suicide how-to site where she stumbles upon a kindred spirit. Frank discussions of suicide methods and sexual abuse make this sobering tale inappropriate for young readers. Iffy for Kids 15-18
Music: Unbroken by Katharine McPhee
Katharine McPhee's second album, "Unbroken," debuts a new sound and look for the American Idol runner up. While the lyrics themselves are family-friendly, the album's slow tempo and McPhee's blond bombshell appearance seem to be aimed at an older audience. OK for Kids 10+
Yet another video site for kids, "Jaroo" is aimed at young grade-schoolers and features old cartoons, mostly from the 1980s and 1990s. With a huge variety to choose from, cartoon lovers are sure to discover new favorites among these mostly off-the-air selections. The site is free but is loaded with commercials that must be viewed before getting to the good stuff. OK for Kids 5+
For Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, "Vancouver 2010" lets players participate in the Winter Olympic Games. Sports enthusiasts can train, compete, or create customized circuits from the 14 available games. Up to four players can compete against each other in split-screen mode and compare scores with players around the world. Rated E, OK for Kids 8+
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