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

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Family Movie Review: McFarland, USA (PG)

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

MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 129 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 10+. The film is about a team of Hispanic teenagers who become an unlikely cross-country running team for their high school, led by a white coach who doesn't quite fit into their town, so there are some instances of cross-cultural confusion and stereotyping, along with some racist innuendo and jokes. A teenage girl is pregnant; also a slightly romantic subplot between two teenagers, who hold hands and hug but don't kiss; an off-screen attack on a group of teens that leaves one stabbed and others bloodied; and the suggestion of a suicide attempt. 

'McFarland, USA' seems like a stereotypical sports-good-racism-bad film at first, but it rejects any blandly broad labels. Its inspirational success comes from smart writing, strong performances, and a fondness for wearing its heart on its sleeve.

By Roxana Hadadi

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Family Movie Review: The Lazarus Effect (PG-13)

TheLazarusEffect ChesapeakeFamilyMovieReviewKernel Rating (out of 5): half-popcorn-kernal

MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 83 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 13+. The film is a back-from-the-dead possession story, with one character becoming evil and killing off people by stabbing them, breaking their necks, crushing them, and choking them; there is also a fatal electrocution, a dog brought back from the dead that becomes aggressive and violent, and some other nightmarish sequences. Also some kissing and implied romantic feelings; jokes about sex; cursing; drinking; and smoking marijuana.

'The Lazarus Effect' goes where many films have gone before in exploring what would happen if someone were brought back from the dead. The results are unsurprising and unpromising.

By Roxana Hadadi

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Family Movie Review: The Song (PG-13)

TheSong ChesapaeakeFamilyMovieReviewKernel Rating (out of 5): whole-popcorn-kernalhalf-popcorn-kernal

MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 117 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. The faith-based film provides a modern take on "The Song of Solomon," with a good man led into temptation through fame, drugs, drinking, and marital infidelity. Some kissing and implied sex scenes, discussions about virginity and extramarital affairs, drinking, smoking, and prescription drug use (including an overdose where a character tries to physically harm himself), the suggestion of an abortion, and the use of disparaging sexual terms for women.

The faith-based 'The Song' benefits from strong musical performances, but this adaptation of 'The Song of Solomon' suffers just as much from frustratingly antiquated female stereotypes. The film's refusal to see shades of feminine gray is its most crippling flaw.

By Roxana Hadadi

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Family Movie Review: The DUFF (PG-13)

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

MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 110 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 14+. As a teen movie, it's mostly obsessed with sex: teens make out, talk about different ways of kissing, are implied to be having sex, talk about sex, make jokes about sex, mime having sex with a mannequin, draw a picture of male genitalia, and talk about pornographic films. Also some cursing, cyberbullying, an adult character who is often drinking, and some teens punching each other.

'The DUFF' is an incoherent mix of messages, a movie about loving yourself for who you are but also changing yourself to be more like others. For a movie about the power of a makeover, 'The DUFF' could have used one.

By Roxana Hadadi

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Family Movie Review: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (PG)

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

MPAA Rating: PG        Length: 138 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. The film is about a mysterious girl who is raised by her parents into becoming a princess, and whose life is turned upside down when noblemen attempt to woo her and marry her because of her possibly supernatural origins. The main themes here are about the worth of young girls and how they're treated as property, so there are some arguments about the protagonist's worth, a lightly romantic subplot, the mention of the word "concubine," a character gets beaten for stealing, and some nudity, namely breastfeeding, a baby's butt, and children skinnydipping in a river (you don't see anything specific).

Studio Ghibli does it again with the affecting 'The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,' a film that manages to tackle the contrast between the natural world and the socially ordered one and draw parallels between that and the subjugation of women. It's a beautifully animated, undeniably moving film.

By Roxana Hadadi

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