Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, The Nut Job and more

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

by | January 17, 2014 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit


Rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence and intense action, and brief strong language.

This prequel/reboot of the Jack Ryan franchise, based on the best-selling Tom Clancy novels, is for tweens and up only. Chris Pine stars as the title character, whom Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck played previously. Here, Ryan is just beginning his career as a CIA operative. It’s post-9/11, and he must travel to Moscow undercover as a financial analyst to find the purpose of some secret accounts a major firm is holding. (Director Kenneth Branagh plays the company’s president, who has some nefarious plans for that money.) Things get violent in a hurry once Ryan arrives – including killing a man who comes after him in his hotel room. Gunfire, car chases, explosions and a deadly shooting follow.

The Nut Job


Rating: PG, for mild action and rude humor.

This thoroughly unfunny animated comedy is full of unlikable characters and shrill antics. Will Arnett lends his voice as Surly, a squirrel who’s only out for himself when he goes hunting for nuts. When it’s clear that the rest of the furry woodland creatures who inhabit the neighborhood park won’t have enough food for the winter, Surly must decide whether to be a team player and help them. There’s a plethora of fart jokes, many of which take place underground to amplify their gross-out factor. Some of the rodents also find themselves in peril on a raging river. Surly and his pals run into some gangster types, but they’re too cartoonish (literally and figuratively) to be threatening. And a raccoon voiced by Liam Neeson turns out to be – spoiler! – perhaps more devious than he initially seems. The film is pretty harmless for the most part from a parental-guidance perspective. But it’s also terrible.

Ride Along


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

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart co-star as mismatched buddy cops, sort of, in this clichéd comedy that strains for laughs. Hart plays a hyperactive security guard who dreams of being 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 – you guessed it – a ride along with Cube to prove his worth. Shootings, showdowns with various generic Serbian bad guys and explosions ensue. There’s also plenty of language and suggestive sexual bits involving the various positions and moves Hart likes to employ in the bedroom. (By the way, his nickname is Black Hammer, supposedly a reference to his manhood.) While it’s fine for the oldest of kids, it’s funny for no one.

New On DVD:

Lee Daniels’ The Butler


Rating: Rating PG-13, for some violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking.

Director Lee Daniels’ sprawling historical epic follows the past several decades through the eyes of a fictionalized version of the White House butler (Forest Whitaker) who served every United States president from Eisenhower to Reagan. Much of the film focuses on the butler’s son (David Oyelowo) as he takes part in the civil-rights movement of the 1960s. There’s a quite a bit of racial violence and slurs that are uncomfortable to see and hear, but maybe they can provide a teaching opportunity. We don’t see the Kennedy assassination but we witness bits of its aftermath, including the sight of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wearing that famously blood-splattered pink suit. Suitable for older kids, especially those with an interest in history.

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