Family Film Guide: 'Black Nativity,' 'Frozen' and 'The Book Thief'

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The Post-Gazette reviews movies from a family perspective:

'Black Nativity'

Rated: PG.

Suitable for: 10-year-olds and up.

What you should know: Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson and young Jacob Latimore star in a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes' popular play. It combines music and drama as a single mother, facing eviction from her Baltimore home, sends her teenage son to stay with her estranged parents in Harlem.

Language: A couple of stronger uses of heck and darn.

Sexual situations and nudity: None, although there is talk about a long-ago unplanned pregnancy.

Violence/scary situations: A woman and her son are being evicted and have no place to go. A bag is snatched on the street. A boy is mistakenly arrested for robbery and temporarily tossed in jail when trying to return a wallet to its rightful owner. A gun is pointed at someone in a thwarted robbery.

Drug or alcohol use: None.


Rated: PG.

Suitable for: Kindergarten-age children and older, keeping in mind the roughly 110-minute running time.

What you should know: This is an animated movie, very loosely inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," and featuring the voices of Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell. It's about two sisters, one of whom has magic powers to create snow and ice, and what happens when she accidentally unleashes them.

Language: None.

Sexual situations and nudity: Limited to kissing.

Violence/scary situations: (Spoiler alert) The girls' parents are killed during a voyage, a development conveyed by the draping of their portraits in black cloth. A girl is hurt while playing but recovers. Another later unleashes a torrent of ice and snow and flees after being called a monster. Menace comes from snarling wolves and a giant snowman. Someone is imprisoned. A character appears near death. Plus minor mishaps, such as a mountain man being dragged through the snow.

Drug or alcohol use: What looks like champagne is served at a party.

'The Book Thief'

Rated: PG-13.

Suitable for: Teens and up.

What you should know: This is based on the Markus Zusak novel about a girl, Liesel, sent to live with foster parents in Germany in 1938. The rise of Hitler and World War II creep ever closer and eventually claim lives near and dear.

Language: One or two uses of profanity.

Sexual situations and nudity: None.

Violence/scary situations: Death narrates the story although only sporadically. The girl's brother dies on the train and is buried in a grave near the tracks. Liesel realizes her biological mother is not returning. Her foster mother initially is harsh and highly critical but warms to her. Schoolmates taunt Liesel and call her names because she cannot read. She responds with her fists in one of several scenes where punches are thrown by her or a schoolyard bully.

Events during "The Night of Broken Glass" are briefly dramatized. Liesel's new parents hide a young Jewish man in their home, and everyone constantly worries he will be discovered. A child dives into icy water to retrieve a cherished belonging. A neighbor suspected of being Jewish is hauled away, and a man who defends him is pushed into the street and bangs his head. People huddle in a shelter as bombs explode overhead. In the most disturbing scenes, fiery bombs leave houses in rubble and kill adults and children whose dust-covered bodies are carried to the street.

Drug or alcohol use: An adult is shown drinking.

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