Can My Kids Watch This Movie? Family Movie Guidance...For Parents.

Our parent movie reviews let you know which new releases to take your kids to and which ones you may want to hold off on.


23Blast ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewKernel Rating (out of 5): whole-popcorn-kernalwhole-popcorn-kernalhalf-popcorn-kernal

MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 98 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. The film is rated PG-13 for some underage drinking, but it's not depicted in any kind of positive way; it's presented as a bad choice and one that shouldn't be made. Also some kissing and some football-related violence, like pushes, shoves, tackles, and the like.

The second football-centered and Christianity-focused film of this year, '23 Blast' tells the story of a high school player who unexpectedly went blind overnight but persevered thanks to his faith and his family. It's almost overbearingly earnest, but it's gently inspirational enough for family viewing.

By Roxana Hadadi

On the surface, "23 Blast" and August's "When the Game Stands Tall" are fairly comparable movies: both about high school football teams, both told from a Christian point of view, both extolling the benefits of faith and family instead of typical teenage behavior, like partying, underage drinking, or superficial romantic relationships. But while "When the Game Stands Tall" was glossy and glitzy in terms of production and almost overwhelming in terms of religion, "23 Blast" is a clearly lower budget, gentler film. Its modesty is its most charming quality, even when the story hits all the inspirational notes you would expect.


TheBestOfMe ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewKernel Rating (out of 5): whole-popcorn-kernal

MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 118 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 14+. A fairly typical adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel: lots of romantic stuff, teenage and adult makeout sessions, constant male shirtlessness, a few sex scenes, and a pregnant high schooler; some cursing; a rough family who drinks, deals drugs, and is emotionally and physically abusive; and some violence, including some beatings and deaths. So much melodrama!

'The Best of Me' is yet another overwrought Nicholas Sparks adaptation, all about tragic love, bad romantic timing, and Southern class warfare. It would simply be typically silly if not for the final twist, which pushes it into egregiously horrendous territory.

By Roxana Hadadi

Does Nicholas Sparks actually believe in happiness? At this point, nine of the author's novels have been turned into films, and they practically all include fatal illnesses, untimely deaths, tragic romance, cruel parents, dire socioeconomic differences, and, of course, love (mostly) lost. Of his most recent adaptations, "Dear John" had a dying husband; "The Last Song" had a dying father and class differences; "The Lucky One" had a bad military experience and an abusive husband; "Safe Haven" had an abusive husband and ghosts (yes, ghosts); and his latest, "The Best of Me," has a dying father figure, class differences, and an abusive husband. It's like a game of cliched plot bingo, and we're all losers.


TheGoodLie ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewKernel Rating (out of 5): whole-popcorn-kernalwhole-popcorn-kernalwhole-popcorn-kernal

MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 110 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 14+. The film isn't a true story, but is inspired by the real "Lost Boys" of Sudan, children whose lives were torn apart during the genocide and war there, so there is some fighting, gunfire, corpses, and dangerous adult soldiers and rebels, as well as dead relatives and friends. Also some cursing, some kissing, some discussions and jokes about sex and sexual situations, and some drug use by a troubled adult.

'The Good Lie' tells the tale of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan, displayed by the genocide there and offered a chance to start anew in the United States. By keeping the boys front and center, the film does justice to their story, albeit in a typically crowd-pleasing way.

By Roxana Hadadi

"The Good Lie" isn't based on one specific true story from the Sudanese civil war from 1983 to the mid-2000s, but director Philippe Falardeau and screenwriter Margaret Nagle have done their research. Falardeau spent time in Sudan; Nagle conducted countless interviews on the effect of the Sudanese civil war on the 20,000 children displaced by the fighting (the "Lost Boys"); and the film is cast with actors who have ties to the country or were personally affected by the violence. "The Good Lie" has respect for its subject, and that comes through quite well—even when the film takes storytelling shortcuts that seem manufactured for maximum heartwarming.


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