Popcorn Parents - Family Movie Reviews

Family Movie Review: Sully (PG-13)

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

MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 95 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 14+. The film about the emergency landing of a commercial airplane on the Hudson River includes some frightening imagery in the form of nightmares and daydreams in which the plane didn’t successfully land, but crashed in New York City, exploding into fire and killing everyone on board; those images are evocative of Sept. 11, 2001, and are undoubtedly troubling. The water landing itself is also fairy stressful, and could be scary for viewers of all ages. Also some cursing.

‘Sully’ is the kind of American story that director Clint Eastwood loves to tell, of individual heroes facing off against misguided bureaucratic judgment. Tom Hanks’s haunted, evocative performance elevates the film to a level of humanity that is life-affirming.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: The Wild Life (PG)

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

MPAA Rating: PG        Length: 90 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 6+. This animated film tells the story of how Robinson Crusoe arrived on a deserted island and came to befriend the local animals living there. A shipwreck and thunderstorm that may be frightening; a lovable character dies in an explosion; a few different vomiting scenes; various scary scenes involving fire; jokes about cannibals; a few different insults are used, like “idiot”; some sexually themed dialogue about a female character’s “curves”; pirate characters drink alcohol; a cat is pregnant and has a litter of kittens; and there is a violent fight toward the end of the film between various animals.

Almost completely unfunny and mostly uninspired, ‘The Wild Life’ coasts by on attractive visuals alone. Otherwise, this is a painful 90 minutes.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Kubo and the Two Strings (PG)

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

MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 101 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 10+. This film includes some action violence, including a couple of very creepy aunts; fights with swords, flying hooks on chains, bows and arrows, and other weapons; fragments of paper that are stylized as blood spurts during a story involving origami; a giant beached whale, a large skeleton, floating eyeballs, and an insect-like dragon; some romantic tension between a couple of characters; and a lot of talk about family honor, death, and grief. Its themes will probably be too advanced and its presentation a bit too scary for younger kids.

Dazzling, complex, and unforgettable, ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ effectively combines layered emotional themes with a stop-motion visual style that is gorgeous and immersive. ‘Kubo’ is one of the year’s standout films, animated or otherwise.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Ben-Hur (PG-13)

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MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 124 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This faith-based remake of the 1959 film has a few different bloody war scenes; an assassination attempt; some people are thrown off horses; some gory wounds, including one that is cauterized; some gross scenes of people who are sick with leprosy; a violent, bloody chariot race; characters who are forced into slavery are whipped and there is a violent shipwreck; many crucifixions; some kissing between married characters; and the killing of Jesus Christ.

The remake of ‘Ben-Hur’ is more simplistically faith-based than its classic 1959 predecessor, but the tweaks to the storyline make the film feel more insular. The highlight here is the updated chariot chase, but those 3D thrills don’t make up for the rest of the film’s unnecessariness.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Pete's Dragon (PG)

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

MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 102 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 8+. A very destructive car accident in the first few minutes leave the young protagonist an orphan, as is his dragon friend; the dragon is mostly dog-like but sometimes scary, breathing fire and attacking humans; some gross-out humor in the form of dragon sneezes; a child falls out of a tree and an adult forcibly pulls another child out of one; a dragon-hunting sequence that is hectic and probably frightening for younger children; a couple of jokes mocking women’s looks and weight.

More wistful and introspective than most family movies this year, ‘Pete’s Dragon’ is deeply moving and unforgettably touching. This is thoughtful, timeless storytelling for children and adults alike.

By Roxana Hadadi

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