Popcorn Parents - Family Movie Reviews

Family Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island (PG-13)

Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole-popcorn-kernalwhole-popcorn-kernalhalf-popcorn-kernal(2.5 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 120 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This monster flick about King Kong is in the B-movie style, with lots of violence and various gross-out scenes: Kong tears apart helicopters, killing various people; huge spiders, insects, and other monsters attack the humans, eating and regurgitating them; there are scenes with monster blood, vomit, and guts. Some cursing; some light flirting and romantic tension between a couple of characters, and the suggestion of prostitution with a few scenes set in brothels.

It’s the bloodthirstiness of man vs. the primal qualities of nature in ‘Kong: Skull Island,’ which has some grossly impressive visuals but mostly feels derivative in both plot and style. This is same old, same old creature feature stuff.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Rock Dog (PG)

Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole-popcorn-kernalwhole-popcorn-kernalhalf-popcorn-kernal(2.5 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG         Length: 80 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 7+. This animated film about a country dog who travels to the city to pursue dreams of playing rock and roll is pretty tame, but has some cartoon violence: a pack of wolves descend upon a small village, aiming to cook and eat the sheep who live there; some fights between the dog who defends the village and the wolves; characters are kidnapped and threatened with physical violence; a main character considers the idea of stealing an idea from someone and not giving them proper credit; a fire spreads though a village; some bathroom humor; there is a cage match fight where a grizzly bear tries to kill the protagonist; and there is some bullying and mocking of the country dog by some of the “cooler” city folk.

‘Rock Dog’ revisits ideas from better animated films, like ‘Kung Fu Panda’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings,’ and tries to adapt them to its premise of a small-town dog who wants to play rock music. The disparate ideas never really come together, and the film is almost immediately forgettable.

By Roxana Hadadi

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

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

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

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