Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: Non-Stop, Plus Gravity, Thor: The Dark World and Muscle Shoals

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

by | February 28, 2014 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:



Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of action and violence, some language, sensuality and drug references.

The latest Liam Neeson action extravaganza, which we’ve come to expect every February or so, takes place almost entirely on a middle-of-the-night, trans-Atlantic flight from New York to London. Neeson plays a troubled air marshal who receives a cryptic, mid-air text message: Deposit $150 million into an account or a passenger will die every 20 minutes. This means some people actually will have to die to show Neeson’s character that the terrorist means business. Non-Stop features plenty of brawling, punching, shooting and stabbing — all with very little blood — as well as a fight to the death inside the cramped quarters of an airplane bathroom. There’s also a briefcase full of cocaine and an amorous couple who join the Mile High Club underneath a blanket. OK for tweens.

New On DVD:



Rating: PG-13, for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language.

Director Alfonso Cuaron’s minor masterpiece — which is sure to win several Academy Awards in a couple of days — is harrowing and intense for a tight 90 minutes. A veteran astronaut (George Clooney) and a medical engineer on her first mission (Sandra Bullock) find themselves lost in space: tumbling, hurtling, clinging to each other for survival. It’s an incredibly beautiful and frightening film — technically flawless and emotionally resonant. There is some language — which is understandable, given that these people are floating around in the vast blackness, cut off from Earth — and some violent images as one terrifying thing after another occurs. I’ve had friends with kids who are around 10 years old report that their children found the whole ordeal just unbearably sad. But older kids — especially ones curious about space exploration – should find themselves thoroughly engaged.

Thor: The Dark World


Rating: Rating: PG-13, for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content.

The sequel to 2011’s Thor is super-duper violent, but in a glossy, computer-generated way. The result is a repetitive and numbing barrage of noisy sameness. The battles are so big, messy and full of over-the-top creatures, the Marvel comic-inspired mayhem barely registers as anything recognizable. Hunky, hammer-wielding Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must fight to restore peace and balance to the cosmos when an ancient, evil force threatens to take over during a rare harmonic convergence. Or something. Thor’s evil brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), is more disturbing than any of the on-screen fights with just a well-chosen, sinister facial expression. Also: Large sections of London end up flattened by spaceships — but again, the violence is too cartoonish to be truly frightening. Fine for older kids, maybe 9 and up.

Muscle Shoals


Rating: PG, for thematic elements, language, smoking and brief partial nudity.

An immensely enjoyable, well-researched documentary about the tiny Alabama town where a ton of classic tunes from the 1960s and ’70s were recorded. From Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett to the Rolling Stones and Traffic to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bob Seger, a wide range of acts discovered and honed their sounds at a couple of modest studios that would end up becoming legendary. Because these are rock stars we’re talking about here, captured both through archival photos and new interviews, there’s some drinking and smoking but nothing shocking. There’s also a smidgen of nudity, thanks to those longhaired hippie rockers the Allman Brothers. This is a great choice for older kids and tweens, especially those who are musically inclined.

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