Popcorn Parents - Family Movie Reviews

Family Movie Review: Paddington 2 (PG)

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

MPAA Rating: PG        Length: 103 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 7+. The film is a sequel to the 2015 film, which was itself an adaptation of the books about Paddington bear. Similar content here as the first film: some gross-out bathroom humor involving ear wax and a bear who loves to lick marmalade, even off other people’s skin; a prison subplot suggests violence in the form of hand-to-hand fighting; there is some very light bullying in said prison subplot; some criminal activity involving a thief; and a man dresses as a female nun for said criminal purposes. Also the mention of a teenage romance falling apart and another teen dressing and acting differently to fit in with the cool kids at school.

How rare that a sequel improves upon its original, and rarer still is a perfect film. But ‘Paddington 2’ is both, encouraging gentleness, politeness, and decency in ways that are often funny and overall quite charming.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 3 (PG-13)

Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernal (2 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 93 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. This final installment in the comedy-musical ‘Pitch Perfect’ films is fairly in line with preceding films, with a fair amount of sexually themed humor, including some jokes about women’s genitalia and some jokes about the attractiveness of various people, as well as the typically self-deprecating humor from the character who calls herself “Fat Amy.” Also this time around, a character is implied to be a drug lord, so there is a kidnapping subplot, some hand-to-hand combat, a massive fire, and an explosion. Some cursing, some vulgar jokes, and some cleavage.

The ‘Pitch Perfect’ franchise loses a significant amount of luster with ‘Pitch Perfect 3,’ a finale that gives its characters too little to do and too few songs to sing. The story moves too much into comedy-action territory to truly feel like the scrappy musical this trilogy started out being.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (PG-13)

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

MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 119 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. This reboot of the ‘90s film “Jumanji” puts a video game spin on the story, with high school students transported to the jungle world. The villain can control animals and has some creepy scenes with snakes, jaguars, and insects crawling into his ear and out of his mouth; there are some scenes with other slightly scary, CGI animals like hippos and rhinos; a lot of sexually themed and vulgar humor, including an entire scene about male genitalia and how men urinate; some female stereotyping and objectification, including jokes about breasts, erections, and flirting; some bullying; some physical altercations, including pushing, slapping, fighting, punching, and characters killed in hand-to-hand combat; teenagers drink margaritas, and one of them gets drunk; and a few kisses between teenagers.

The ‘90s kids’ classic ‘Jumanji’ gets a franchise reboot with ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ which pairs constant co-stars Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart and drops them into a cursed video game. There are funny moments throughout, but the sexual humor is constant and the narrative tension is nonexistent.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: The Post (PG-13)

Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernal (4 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG-13        Length: 115 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 12+. The movie focuses on the Pentagon Papers, a report that traced U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War over decades; the printing of those documents in leading newspapers in the early 1970s helped change public opinion against the war. The films opens with the Vietnam War, with gunfire, explosions, and U.S. soldiers seen missing limbs and gravely injured; people smoke cigarettes nearly constantly and drink alcohol; a subplot involves the suicide of the husband of a main character; a fair amount of casual sexism; and some cursing and rude jokes.

With ‘The Post,’ director Steven Spielberg delivers a slice of American history that feels essential right now—a defense of free speech and a portrait of the journalists who risked everything by delivering that truth to the people. This is a superbly acted, meticulously crafted film that makes clear the need for truth seekers both then and now.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: The Greatest Showman (PG)

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

MPAA Rating: PG       Length: 105 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 10+. This musical acts somewhat like a biopic of P.T. Barnum, portraying the man who helped popularize the spectacle of the “freak show” and circus in a very positive light; how much you know about what Barnum actually was like will color your impression of the film. Upper-class and wealthy people are depicted as child abusers (you see one slap a young boy in the face) dream crushers, and judgmental jerks; there are scenes of protestors and riots where the “freaks” of Barnum’s show are attacked physically; a gigantic fire lands a character in the hospital with burns and wounds; and some implied romantic tension between a couple of characters, including a few kisses.

P.T. Barnum was not a good person, and it is fundamentally disingenuous for ‘The Greatest Showman’ to portray the man as a generous provider of opportunity and spinner of dreams. If you treat the film entirely as fiction, it’s an earnest, enjoyable musical, but removing it from problematic source material is a challenge.

By Roxana Hadadi

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