What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this version of the classic Nutcracker holiday tale bears only a passing resemblance to the famous ballet and story that inspired it. Viewers expecting the whimsy of the original may be downright confused, enraged and -- if they're 8 and under -- frightened. Here, the Rat King is a Hitler-like villain with the desire to burn children's toys and a combative relationship with a dysfunctional mother (she bites his ear out of anger). Other disturbing scenes include a drummer boy (who appears human) whose head is yanked off and tossed around. Soldiers are shown wielding machine guns, and one character smokes a cigar. And the 3-D presentation makes some of the scary parts even more intense.