This week: "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events"; "Flight of the Phoenix"

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“Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”

Rating: PG for thematic elements, scary situations and brief language.

What it’s about: Plucky orphans are beset by an endless parade of unfortunate events but somehow find a way out of most of them.

The kid-attractor factor: It is based on a popular series of books aimed at a 12-year-old audience, with comic violence and the promise of something twisted and macabre at every fanciful turn.

Good lessons/bad lessons: Don’t rely on fiddle-headed grown-ups to rescue you. Save yourself. And the answers to all of life’s questions are in books and the places where they keep books: libraries.

Violence: Slapstick, though the threat of trains, hurricanes and leeches is realistic enough.

Language: Pretty tame.

Sex: An underage wedding is threatened.

Drugs: None.

Parents advisory: Far-out stuff for the very young, but the target audience — 8 to 13 — should eat this up. Maybe it will lead your kids to the books.

“Flight of the Phoenix”

Rating: PG-13 for some language, action and violence.

What it’s about: An oil-rig crew, a pilot and others are stranded in the Gobi Desert after a plane crash. Who will survive?

The kid-attractor factor: For all its adult cast and themes, it’s really a boy’s adventure story, a “Lord of the Flies” with grown-ups.

Good lessons/bad lessons: Leadership isn’t bestowed by promotions. It’s earned by developing one’s character.

Violence: Shootings, a messy plane crash.

Language: Some profanity. Not much.

Sex: None.

Drugs: None.

Parents advisory: Standard-issue PG-13 action film, with barely enough violence to earn the rating and titillate the video-game crowd.

The Family Films feature is designed to help parents evaluate whether movies are suitable for their children. Not all movies addressed in this feature are recommended.