Big-Screen Cheat Sheet: Which Movie Should You See This Weekend?

From American Hustle to Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, get the scoop on what's playing in theaters

Will Ferrell is back in action in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Justin Long is voicing an ambitious Pachyrhinosaurus in Walking With Dinosaurs and Oscar Isaac is hoping to win over the folk music scene in Inside Llewyn Davis. Meanwhile, American Hustle and Saving Mr. Banks have opened in theaters nationwide, alongside last week's releases. These are the movies to check out -- will you be grabbing your popcorn and seeing one of them this weekend?

'American Hustle' (Dec. 20)

American Hustle Review

Columbia Pictures

Short Story: Set in 1970s New Jersey, con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his partner, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are reluctantly roped into working with FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Naturally, hijinks ensue. Also starring Jennifer Lawrence as Irving's manic wife Rosalyn, and Jeremy Renner as New Jersey mayor Carmine Polito.
Click here for the official movie site!

What They're Saying: "It's a film of jaw-dropping virtuosity and pleasure, one that leaves you revved, enthralled, tickled, moved, and amazed." -- Entertainment Weekly

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%

Good for Kids? In case the con-artist subject matter isn't enough to drive young viewers away, American Hustle's R-rating for language, sexual content and violence should do the trick. Common Sense Media tells viewers to "expect strong performances, but save this one for older teens and adults."
Click here for the full Common Sense Review.

'Saving Mr. Banks' (Dec. 20)

Saving Mr Banks Review

Walt Disney Studios

Short Story: A dream is a wish your heart makes, right? In Saving Mr. Banks, it's Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) that has the dream, and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) who wishes to adapt her novel into a movie.
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What They're Saying: "Hanks IS Disney in these scenes, as we've never seen him before." -- The Huffington Post

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 80%

Good for Kids? Although this feel-good, Disney-centric flick might immediately appeal to little ones, Common Sense Media says its PG-13 rating (for unsettling themes and images) makes Saving Mr. Banks "appropriate for older tweens and up."
Click here for the full Common Sense Review.

'Walking With Dinosaurs' (Dec. 20)

Walking With Dinosaurs Review

20th Century Fox

Short Story: Looking to follow in his dad's (really big) footsteps as the next leader of the herd, young Pachyrhinosaurus dinosaur Patchi (voiced by Justin Long) is shown the ropes, forced to become a hero among dinosaurs as climate change threatens the species. Additional voices provided by John Leguizamo, Karl Urban and Skyler Stone.
Click here for the official movie site!

What They're Saying: "While the walking part’s pretty impressive, the talking part — not so much." -- The Hollywood Reporter

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 25%

Good for Kids? Despite moments of mild violence, and the ever-depressing topic of climate change, Common Sense Media says "this family-friendly movie is sure to be a visual spectacle, especially in 3D."
Click here for the full Common Sense Review.

'Inside Llewyn Davis' (Dec. 20)

Inside Llewyn Davis Review

CBS Films

Short Story: Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, this folksy flick follows young singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) as he navigates the folk music scene of 1961 Greenwich Village. Also starring John Goodman, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake.
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What They're Saying: "If you love the Coens, or follow folk music, or hold fast to this period of history and that patch of New York, then the film can hardly help striking a chord... Yet something in the movie fails to grip, and it has to do with the hero." -- The New Yorker

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%

Good for Kids? With an R-rating for language — and according to Common Sense Media, intense subject matter, drinking and drug use — Inside Llewyn Davis "may be too heavy for younger teens."
Click here for the full Common Sense Review.

'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues' (Dec. 18)

Anchorman 2 Review

Paramount Pictures

Short Story: After he gets sacked from his job (and his wife is conversely given a promotion), news anchor Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is forced into the world of 24-hour news when he takes a new gig at fledgling news channel GNN — joined, of course, by his old team (Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner).
Click here for the official movie site!

What They're Saying: "If it has a '2'—or, classier yet, a 'II'—in the title, the smart money says that it won't be as funny as the original. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues doesn't defy that axiom, but it's still plenty hilarious in a reheated sort of way." -- CNN

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 74%

Good for Kids? Although Anchorman 2 is not rated R as parents might expect, Common Sense Media says the PG-13 flick is a "mature comedy" that contains plenty of "strong language, graphic sexual references, some nudity, racial stereotypes and other crude content." In short? Not for kids.
Click here for the full Common Sense Review.

'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' (Dec. 13)

The Desolation of Smaug Review

Warner Bros. Pictures

Short Story: Picking up where last year's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey left off, The Desolation of Smaug once again follows Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and 13 other dwarves in their attempt to reclaim their lost kingdom from dragon Smaug.
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What They're Saying: "This movie is tremendously enjoyable, and considering how exotic it is, The Desolation of Smaug is weirdly unassuming. It rattles along, never drags, and is always terrifically likable: open, genial and good-natured." -- The Guardian

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75%

Good for Kids? Despite its PG-13 rating for intense action violence, Common Sense Media says The Desolation of Smaug "looks milder" than the Lord of the Rings trilogy and carries an important message for young viewers: "Size doesn't matter when you're faced with larger-than-life obstacles."
Click here for the full Common Sense Review.

'Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas' (Dec. 13)

A Madea Christmas Review


Short Story: Based on Tyler Perry's play of the same name, A Madea Christmas finds Madea (Perry) and niece Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford) traveling to visit Eileen's daughter, Lacy, for Christmas. But when they arrive at Lacy's new home, they find themselves in for a rude awakening.
Click here for the official movie site!

What They're Saying: "Coal. A moldy fruitcake. Socks and underwear. The complete Encyclopedia Britannica set. These are items I’d prefer to receive this holiday season instead of Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas." -- The Washington Post

Rotten Tomatoes Rating:

Good for Kids? If you've ever seen one of the (many) Madea movies, you'll know the film franchise is crude and inappropriate. To that end, Common Sense Media says this crass Christmas flick "looks best suited for teens and adults."
Click here for the full Common Sense Review.

Rebecca Iannucci is an iVillage contributing writer. Follow her on Pinterest, Twitter and

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