Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: Strange Magic, Plus The Boxtrolls on DVD

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

by | January 23, 2015 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:

Strange Magic


Rating: PG, for some action and scary images.

This is an animated, musical fantasy from the mind of George Lucas which also contains elements of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If you think it sounds like there’s a lot going on there, you’re right. It all takes place in an enchanted land which has been split in two: There’s the Fairy Kingdom and the Dark Forest. A plucky fairy princess (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood) dares to enter the scary neighboring territory, where she makes an unexpected connection with the mean, lonely Bog King (Alan Cumming). And they do it all in song! Some of the colors and background elements are vibrantly colorful and beautifully detailed, but the characters’ and creatures’ faces are stiff and rubbery in an off-putting way. The music — a mix of pop songs from the past 60 years or so, ranging from Elvis Presley to Bob Marley to Beyonce — is incessant and overbearing. And some of the homelier creatures, including the Bog King (who’s some sort of insect hybrid), might frighten younger viewers. OK for most ages. But I’d go see Paddington first.

New On DVD:

The Boxtrolls


Rating: PG, for action, some peril and mild rude humor.

The adventures in this family-friendly comedy are pretty tame — it’s the details that might freak your kids out a bit. The painstaking stop-motion animation results in a major dark streak and a prevailing grotesquery which may be too much for the youngest viewers. Beneath a quaintly dreary English village lives a population of creatures called the Boxtrolls. They are industrious and mischievous and misunderstood. They also have a young, orphaned boy living among them who’s known as Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) because they all take their names from the boxes they wear: Fish, Shoe, etc. A dastardly and socially ambitious villain with the Dickensian name of Archibald Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley) promises the city’s leaders he’ll eradicate the town of all Boxtrolls if they’ll let him join their elite white hat society. Snatcher loves cheese (as everyone in town does) but he’s allergic to it, swelling in disgusting fashion from a single bite. Children are often in peril or neglected, and there’s a subplot involving kidnapping. Suitable for kids around 6 and older.