Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: Bears, Transcendence, Plus The Nut Job and more

We give you what you need to know about the family-friendliness of this week's new releases.

by | April 18, 2014 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:




Rating: G.

The latest family-friendly documentary from Disney’s Disneynature label, following Earth, Oceans, African Cats and Chimpanzees, is mainly an adorably cuddly adventure. It follows a mama bear named Sky and her two cubs, Scout and Amber, as they dig out from their snowy cave in the Alaskan wilderness and head down the mountain in search of food. Perils do await them, though, from larger and hungrier bears and wolves to rising water and the threat of starvation. (If you and your family have seen African Cats, with its bloody zebra mauling, nothing nearly so gory happens here.) There are a couple of tense moments but John C. Reilly’s amiable narration lets you know everything will be all right. And the film is beautiful, intimately shot, so it’s at least worthwhile from a visual perspective. Fine for all ages.



Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality.

Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer, Oscar-winner Wally Pfister, makes his directing debut with this thinky sci-fi thriller. It’s full of big ideas about the frightening power of technology — both its potential and its threat to our privacy — but the execution is rather dull and sometimes silly. Johnny Depp stars as a brilliant scientist who’s been experimenting with artificial intelligence alongside his wife (Rebecca Hall). When a terrorist group guns him down, he uploads himself to the Internet to keep his legacy alive. There are lots of shootings and explosions here with quite a bit of blood, but part of the story hinges on medical advancements that allow people to regenerate and heal themselves – so they don’t stay injured for long. The violence, subject matter and nearly two-hour running time make this suitable for tweens and up only.

New On DVD:

The Nut Job


Rating: PG, for mild action and rude humor.

A mostly innocuous but thoroughly unpleasant animated comedy full of unlikable characters. Will Arnett provides the voice of Surly, a squirrel who’s just trying to get a nut – and he’s unwilling to share with the rest of the furry woodland creatures in the park. Trouble is, there’s a food shortage as winter approaches, so Surly must choose between remaining selfish or being a team player. Fart jokes abound here – and many of them take place underground just to make them extra gross. Some of the rodents also wind up in danger on a raging river. Surly and his pals run into some mobster types, but they’re too cartoonish (in every way) to be threatening. And a raccoon voiced by Liam Neeson might just be more devious than he initially seems.

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty


Rating: PG, for some crude comments, language and action violence.

Ben Stiller directs and stars as the title character in this big-budget version of the classic James Thurber story. The milquetoast Mitty enjoys a vivid fantasy world which becomes reality when he’s forced to embark on a globetrotting adventure. The special effects are pretty spectacular here – and they’re the main reason to recommend this movie. There are a couple scenes of peril: a chase through the crowded streets of Manhattan, as well as an erupting volcano. And Walter’s boss, played by an arrogant Adam Scott, is a total jerk. But for the most part this inanely uplifting story about overcoming your fears and chasing your dreams is pretty darn harmless.

Ride Along


Rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language.

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart co-star in this clichéd, mismatched buddy-cop comedy that strains desperately to be funny. Hart plays a fast-talking security guard with dreams of becoming a police officer. He also dreams of marrying his longtime girlfriend (Tika Sumpter), whose brother is the toughest detective in all of Atlanta. Hart goes for a ride along with Cube — hence the title — to prove his worth. Shootings, showdowns with generic Serbian bad guys and explosions ensue. There’s also plenty of language and suggestive sexual jokes involving the various positions and tricks Hart likes to employ in the bedroom. (And his nickname is Black Hammer, supposedly a reference to his manhood.) This is probably OK for older kids, but you may want to show them The Other Guys or even 21 Jump Street instead.

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