Popcorn Parents - Family Movie Reviews

Family Movie Review: The LEGO Ninjago Movie (PG)

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

MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 101 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 8+. The latest LEGO-themed children’s film is about the Ninjago TV show and toy line, and although the story is separate from that universe, it mimics the look already established by LEGO. A variety of cartoon violence, including explosions, hand-to-hand ninja combat, characters being ejected from volcanos, characters falling off of bridges, city destruction, and zombie-like characters; an arm of a character is detached and needs to be popped back in. Some bathroom humor, including rude insults about butts and smells; a subplot that involves the dissolution of a family and a child raised without a father figure; and some school bullying.

‘The LEGO Ninjago Movie’ is the weakest of the LEGO big-screen adaptations, a derivative regurgitation of what the toy line has already done in preceding films. It’s a spinoff you can skip.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Rebel in the Rye (PG-13)

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

MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 109 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This biopic of the reclusive American author J. D. Salinger focuses on his early struggles, time serving during World War II, and life after the publication of the classic novel ‘Catcher in the Rye.’ The film focuses on some of his family strife, including his harsh relationships with his father and sister, as well as his romantic relationships, with some subtle acknowledgment of his problematic habit of being interested in teenage women. Characters drink and smoke cigarettes; there are scenes from World War II, including battlefield warfare, explosions, and dead bodies; and a few scenes are set in a veteran’s hospital, with soldiers traumatized and injured after WWII.

J. D. Salinger’s life gets the biopic treatment with ‘Rebel in the Rye,’ which traces his early writing career to his later reclusiveness. Nicholas Hoult leads a stacked cast, but the movie doesn’t reveal much that isn’t already known about the legendary writer.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Home Again (PG-13)

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

MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 97 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 13+. This comedy-drama follows a 40-year-old woman whose life gets complicated when three younger men move into her home and she begins a sexual relationship with one of them. There is some kissing, some implied sex scenes, a male character who is often shirtless, and the discussion of past one-night stands, sexual relationships, and marital infidelity. Also a subplot about the effect of divorce on young children, adult characters often drink beer and wine and there is a brief mention of marijuana use, there is a (mostly comical) fistfight between two men, and some language.

Reese Witherspoon brings her trademark cheeky charm to ‘Home Again,’ but she can’t redeem a film that can’t quite figure out what it’s trying to say about marriage, sex, or family. The cast has phenomenal chemistry, but the narrative doesn’t really work.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Leap! (PG)

Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalhalf popcorn kernal (3.5 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG         Length: 89 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 7+. This animated film about an orphan girl dreaming of being a ballerina in Paris features some juvenile bathroom humor (mostly flatulence, including some gas that is lit on fire upon exit); some cruel bullying in the form of hurtful names and insults; a lightly romantic triangle between the tween/teen characters that results in one fight between the two male participants; a romantic kiss on the cheek; and some lightly scary stuff involving high heights and threats by adults against children.

One of the few animated films this summer aimed squarely at female audiences, ‘Leap!’ is cute and heartfelt, even if the story itself is fairly typical. Familiar themes of trying your best and persevering in the face of adversity abound.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: In This Corner of the World (PG-13)

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

MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 129 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. This animated film set in Japan focuses on the life of a young woman who comes of age during World War II, marrying early and attempting to figure out how she fits into her new husband’s family. The film ratchets up the anxiety and intensity as it progresses, with air raid sirens, fighter planes bombing villages, explosions, destroyed buildings, the dropping of the nuclear bomb, and characters who either die or are gravely injured. Although this is an animated film, the images are still sometimes shocking, including one scene in which a young child doesn’t understand that her mother, depicted briefly as a decaying corpse, has died. Also a couple of romantic subplots, some kissing and implied sex scenes, and bullying.

The animated ‘In This Corner of the World’ follows a Japanese girl’s coming of age in Hiroshima during World War II. Although often beautifully animated and deeply sad, the film struggles to maintain a steady pace or provide enough detail to its characters.

By Roxana Hadadi

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