Popcorn Parents - Family Movie Reviews

Family Movie Review: A Monster Calls (PG-13)

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MPAA Rating: PG-13         Length: 108 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. Although marketed for kids, ‘A Monster Calls’ is really more appropriate for tweens and older viewers because of its heavy thematic content and emotional elements. A boy deals with the stress, confusion, and grief caused by his mother suffering from cancer, lashing out at family members and peers; various scenes of physical and emotional bullying, including one scene that is somewhat homophobic; and some cursing. Also some fantastical elements with an anthropomorphized tree who comes to life and tells the boy stories that involve death, faith, and loss.

The latest young-adult-novel-turned-film, ‘A Monster Calls,’ approaches its narrative of grief and loss with equal parts nuance and ferocity, plus some beautiful animation. But this film, despite its marketing, is not for children, needing older tween and teen viewers to appreciate its depths.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Sing (PG)

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MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 108 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 8+. This film about animals auditioning for a singing competition includes some modern-day pop music that is sexually suggestive, like bunny rabbits shaking their tails to “Baby Got Back”; a criminal gang involved in theft; some bathroom humor and a few rude jokes; a scary scene where characters almost drown; and some goofy, gross moments, like a lizard’s glass eye popping out.

The latest animated film ‘Sing’ has the same kind of generic ‘be yourself’ message that so many children’s movies do, but is supported by excellent vocal performances and a likeable soundtrack. This isn’t a classic, but it’s enjoyable viewing for younger viewers.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Hidden Figures (PG)

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MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 127 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. This real story about the black women who worked at NASA and helped get the first Americans into space includes some scary moments, including the threats of exploding and crashed rockets and astronauts dying; some horribly racist moments and scenes, including white people mocking and undermining black people; some sexually themed jokes; and some flirtation and kissing between adults.

‘Hidden Figures’ is simultaneously one of the most frustrating and most feel-good movies of the year, unflinchingly portraying the women who battled against American racism and segregation while working for NASA. This is a well-crafted, wonderfully acted crowd pleaser.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Passengers (PG-13)

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MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 116 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 14+. This film’s “romance” is dangerous for teen viewers, with its male “hero” essentially stalking and then lying to the female protagonist; when she falls in love with him, it’s clearly Stockholm syndrome, and it shouldn’t be marketed as positive for impressionable young audiences. Some kissing, implied nudity, and sex scenes; Chris Pratt’s naked butt on a couple of occasions; some infrequent cursing; adults drink to drunkenness; characters die; and some violence and scary situations.

‘Passengers’ has star power in Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, but this is an irredeemable film, infuriatingly conflating obsession with love. Neither stimulating visually nor thoughtful narratively, ‘Passengers’ is a must-pass movie.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: La La Land (PG-13)

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MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 128 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This musical about two artists falling in love in Los Angeles has some kissing, unmarried characters living together, some drinking, and one use of the f-word and some rude gestures. Aside from the romantic tension, there is also a recurring discussion of the value of creativity vs. compromise, which could go over the head of younger viewers but may speak to humanities-interested teenagers.

‘La La Land’ is an exquisitely made escapist fantasy, the kind of movie that simultaneously soothes like a balm and cuts like a knife. The flawless performances from Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling make this musical one of the best films of the year.

By Roxana Hadadi

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