6 and older:

“Hotel Transylvania 2” (PG): The animated 3-D adventures of a nonviolent, family-oriented Dracula and his daughter continue in this adequate sequel. The humor is as lowbrow as the 2012 original is, but the laughs are generous, and the scary/monstery stuff seems toned down enough for kids 6 and older. There are still vampires, bats, blobs and creatures at Dracula’s Hotel Transylvania, but nothing too boo-worthy. His vampire daughter, Mavis, marries her human boyfriend, Jonathan, and they have a little boy, Dennis. He reaches age 4 with no sign of fangs. He may just be a “late-fanger,” Dracula hopes. Mavis and Jonathan take a vacation, leaving Dennis with his grandpa. Dracula and his buddies Frankenstein, the invisible man, the werewolf and the mummy take Dennis to a monster theme park. Dracula’s human-hating father, Vlad, poses a brief threat, but the finale is all about acceptance. (89 minutes)

THE BOTTOM LINE: A climactic battle involves swarming bats. There is a little crude humor, with the word “boobies” used once.

10 and older:

“Goosebumps” (PG): An array of monsters from R.L. Stine’s scary-funny “Goosebumps” books comes to life in this mildly imaginative trifle, with Stine himself (played by Jack Black) as a character, and teen romance as the backdrop. Kids 10 and older will likely be amused, but for some under-10s, the sight of those monsters on a big screen may be too much: The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, the nasty garden gnomes, the giant praying mantis and Slappy the evil ventriloquist’s dummy all bare tooth and claw, chase the teen protagonists and threaten the town. Zach has recently lost his dad. He and his mom move to a Delaware town where she’ll be the vice principal at his new school. Hannah, the cute girl next door, befriends Zach, though her secretive dad (Black) warns him off. Overhearing a scream in Hannah’s house, Zach and his nerdy pal, Champ, go to investigate. Hannah’s fine, but they find a bookcase full of original, locked R.L. Stine manuscripts. One gets opened, out pops the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena and we’re off. (98 minutes)

THE BOTTOM LINE: Parents will need to know their kids’ limits, even those 10 and older. Many are already creeped out by clowns and ventriloquist dummies. To see so many monsters on the screen may overwhelm them. There are also humans-vs.-monster battles.


“Bridge of Spies”: Steven Spielberg has delivered a crackerjack fact-based Cold War saga, thick with atmosphere and tension. It will especially enthrall history-loving teens, breathing life into their textbook knowledge of the era. Even better, “Bridge of Spies” celebrates a hero who values honor and the law. It begins in 1957, when Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) is captured by the FBI in New York. The U.S. government approaches a big law firm to provide an attorney to defend Abel, to show he can get a fair trial. James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks), an insurance claims lawyer, gets the high-profile job – plus dirty looks from citizens on his subway ride to work. Abel is convicted, but Donovan persuades the judge to give him prison time, not a death sentence, in case the United States needs to trade him. Sure enough, in 1960, an American spy plane gets shot down and its pilot, Francis Gary Powers, taken prisoner by the Soviets. Donovan goes to East Berlin under CIA auspices to negotiate an exchange. (143 minutes)

THE BOTTOM LINE: The most harrowing moments depict East Berliners shot as they try to climb over the Berlin Wall, and Powers struggling to eject as his plane falls. Scenes of Powers’ captivity show him treated roughly. Donovan’s daughter is endangered when someone shoots at their house. The script includes a couple uses of the F-word.


“Steve Jobs”: Teens love their devices and are at least marginally aware of how computers, the Internet and cellphones transformed the world within a mere couple of decades. They also love a flawed hero, which is why this impressionistic portrait, partly fictionalized and partly based on the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs, will grip them. It is as dialogue-heavy and formally structured as a three-act play, but it is never less than riveting. The R rating reflects strong profanity but no obscenity. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin paints Apple co-founder Jobs (Michael Fassbender) as an Olympian-ego’d genius marketer who also was an emotionally walled-off control freak, unwilling to give credit where it was due or even, at first, concede paternity of a daughter born out of wedlock. Sorkin imagines him backstage prior to three key launches — of the Macintosh computer in 1984; of his new company NeXT in 1985 after he was pushed out of Apple; and of the iMac in 1998, after he returned to Apple. Verbal and moral jousts erupt between Jobs and key players in his life and work. (122 minutes)

THE BOTTOM LINE: The script contains multiple F-words as well as brief, semi-crude sexual language and oblique references to promiscuity.

Horwitz has been reviewing movies for Washington-area media outlets including The Washington Post and WETA public television since 1988. The Family Filmgoer column offers weekly movie reviews with a focus on family, an invaluable tool for parents planning trips to the theater.