Popcorn Parents - Family Movie Reviews

Family Movie Review: My Little Pony: The Movie (PG)

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

MPAA Rating: PG          Length: 99 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 7+. A few playful insults between friends; some bathroom humor; some extremely light flirting/romantic undertones between a member of the Mane 6 ponies and a smooth-talking cat; and some action violence caused by the two villains, one of whom was a Pony who was bullied in her childhood, shown in flashback. The action violence includes baddies with skull-like faces who attack, round up, and enslave the ponies; they might be frightening for very young viewers.

Pleasantly self-aware and consistently amusing, ‘My Little Pony: The Movie’ enjoyably transports the bright pastels and sunny disposition of Equestria to the big screen. It’s another win for female-focused animated features this year.

By Roxana Hadadi

Family Movie Review: Battle of the Sexes (PG-13)

Kernel Rating (out of 5): whole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalwhole popcorn kernalhalf popcorn kernal (4.5 out of 5)

MPAA Rating: PG-13       Length: 121 minutes

Age Appropriate For: 14+. This drama about the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs is less about the match itself and more about the gender politics that surrounded it, including the women’s liberation movement, the horrible pushback from men, and the gender divisions in our country, themes that still feel relevant today. There is a lot of casual sexism, comments from men about women only belonging in the kitchen and the bedroom, women who are objectified (some skimpy bikinis and outfits), and other similar conversations. The film also tells the story of King’s growing awareness of her own sexual identity and her affair, so there is a subplot about marital infidelity, some implied sex scenes and nudity, and some kissing. Characters drink, smoke, and take pills, and there is some cursing and lewd jokes.

Emma Stone and Steve Carell are phenomenal in the slickly produced but thoroughly captivating ‘Battle of the Sexes.’ The film feels especially relevant for our current times, and its tackling of the crippling everyday sexism and judgment faced by women and the LGBT community is engrossing.

By Roxana Hadadi

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

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