Popcorn Parents - Family Movie Reviews

Family Movie Review: The Great Wall (PG-13)

Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole-popcorn-kernalwhole-popcorn-kernalwhole-popcorn-kernal (3 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 104 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This monster flick has some legitimately scary moments thanks to well-done 3D effects; the beasts, with their countless teeth and snapping jaws fly out of nowhere and into your face to terrifying effect. Also some cursing; a very lightly implied romantic subplot; and lots of death and destruction in the form of the monsters killing humans, tearing them apart, and eating them. The prevalent CGI keeps the film from seeming so real that it would scare teen viewers, but the violence is too much for younger audiences.

Legendary Chinese filmmaker Yimou Zhang aims for American audiences with ‘The Great Wall,’ a monster-focused would-be blockbuster. The film is visually astounding and often quite funny, but Matt Damon is an attention-pulling, movie-disrupting miscast.

By Roxana Hadadi

Read more: Family Movie Review: The Great Wall (PG-13)

Family Movie Review: The LEGO Batman Movie (PG)

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

MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 104 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 8+. A spinoff of “The LEGO Movie” that focuses on the Batman character from that film and references previous films about the comic book hero, this animated film includes a good amount of violence, with shootouts, hand-to-hand combat, explosions, and lots of other action sequences. Also some bathroom humor, an unrequited romance on Batman’s part, some scary/thrilling moments that may scare younger viewers, a few instances where the LEGO characters are pantsless, and the ongoing discussion of Batman’s fear of having a family after his own parents were killed.

‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ is a frenetic, colorful exploration into the world of the Dark Knight, as adapted to this universe of children’s toys. It’s self-aware and well-animated, but there’s a turn in the story that cheapens the whole thing about halfway through.

By Roxana Hadadi

Read more: Family Movie Review: The LEGO Batman Movie (PG)

Family Movie Review: The Space Between Us (PG-13)

Kernel Rating (out of 5): half-popcorn-kernal

MPAA Rating: PG-13         Length: 120 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This film about a boy who is born on Mars and dreams of a life on Earth is full of frustrating gender stereotypes: a woman who becomes pregnant is called “irresponsible” and her pregnancy a “mistake,” with no blame discussed for the father of the child; a teenage boy lies to a girl he likes and belittles her beliefs, but they start a relationship anyway; a teen romance with some kissing and an implied sex scene; teens steal and lie; a foster father is depicted as a hopeless drunk; and a subplot about the boy’s health, with a surgery scene and a prevailing threat of death.

‘The Space Between Us’ is basically 12-year-old-boy wish fulfillment, in every clichéd, frustrating way. Men act irresponsibly and women are around to clean up their messes in this horrendously forgettable teen romance pretending to be a sci-fi movie.

By Roxana Hadadi

Read more: Family Movie Review: The Space Between Us (PG-13)

Family Movie Review: The Red Turtle (PG)

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

MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 81 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. This animated film about a shipwrecked man struggling to survive on an isolated island, because of its focus on the passage of time, includes some scenes about sickness and death, including a few in which animals die, are attacked, or killed. Also some scary scenes, including a tsunami; implied nudity when characters are swimming or standing in the water; and a romantic relationship that results in the birth of a child.

The animation of ‘The Red Turtle’ is exquisite, making the film a visual splendor. But the story itself is almost simplistic to a fault, flirting with the fantastical but not going far enough.

By Roxana Hadadi

Read more: Family Movie Review: The Red Turtle (PG)

Family Movie Review: A Dog's Purpose (PG)

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

MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 120 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. This film about a dog being reincarnated numerous times includes a fair amount of death as the animal’s spirit cycles through various bodies; dogs are caught and put down, are shot, become elderly and pass away, are neglected, and experience various other things that may be emotionally wrenching for young dog lovers. Also a few romantic subplots among the film’s humans, including some kissing; humans get drunk and smoke cigarettes; mentions of other characters passing away; sexually themed humor and gross bathroom jokes; some teen bullying; and discussion of the tense political environment of the ‘60s.

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ tries its hardest to make audiences weep with its story of a dog’s spirit being reincarnated through various bodies as it wonders about the meaning of life. That’s a lofty goal that doesn’t pay off in this mostly trite film.

By Roxana Hadadi

Read more: Family Movie Review: A Dog's Purpose (PG)

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