Parental Guidance

How Family-Friendly are Dunkirk and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets?

by | July 21, 2017 | Comments

You may be itching to see Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed new war epic, and you might be tempted to take your kids, considering it’s rated PG-13. But before you do that, have a look at what film critic — and mother — Christy Lemire has to say about it, plus her thoughts on Luc Besson’s colorful and bizarre space adventure, in case your kids see the trailers and beg you to see it.



Dunkirk (2017) 92%

Rating: PG-13, for intense war experience and some language.

Christopher Nolan’s World War II drama is a masterful, compact pressure cooker of tension and technical prowess. It’s at once intimate and epic – deceptively simple yet dazzling with the kind of complex narrative that’s long been a signature of the writer-director of Memento, Inception and the Dark Knight trilogy. From a trio of interwoven perspectives, Nolan depicts the evacuation of the beach at Dunkirk as Allied soldiers found themselves surrounded and forced to flee. Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, and Harry Styles are among the players whose fates intersect. Dunkirk features nearly non-stop violence and peril, as you would expect from a war picture. The soldiers are under attack from the air, ground and sea. Many characters (and extras) are shot to death, but there’s barely any blood. And there’s surprisingly only a bit of language, but that includes the one F-word you get in a PG-13 movie. Mostly, though, the unrelenting suspense on display here is what may disturb younger viewers. That, and the noise – the sound design is exquisite, but the gunfire is very loud, as are the screams as men find themselves trapped, abandoning ships, drowning or burning to death. I brought my 7 ½-year-old son to see it in IMAX (because I’m that kind of mom, and because he can handle heavier material); the one scene that bothered him takes place in a boat as men are being shot at and drowning. Mostly, though, I’d say this is OK for mature tweens and older. And at an hour and 46 minutes, it’s surprisingly short.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) 48%

Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi violence and action, suggestive material and brief language.

Good lord, this is a strange movie. Deliriously, delightfully strange, but still. It won’t be to everyone’s taste but it’s certainly never dull, and it’s frequently a lot of fun. This shiny, colorful extravaganza from sci-fi master Luc Besson is an intergalactic roller coaster ride with bits of snappy (albeit clunky) romantic banter tossed in between. It starts out hundreds of years in the future with the fiery destruction of a beach planet where parents watch their alien daughter perish. But the main story focuses on humans: a special ops team (Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne) trying to determine the origin of a hidden force buried deep within Alpha, the aforementioned City of a Thousand Planets. They also have to babysit a rare, miniature dinosaur that poops out powerful pearls. No, really. Characters are constantly in danger, and there are several outer (and inner) space battle scenes. Eventually, Rihanna shows up as an eager-to-please shape-shifter who performs a sexually suggestive dance sequence in a brothel. No, really. There’s a mind-boggling variety of creatures — some of them cute, some of them bizarre, some of them just plain off-putting. At 2 hours and 17 minutes, Valerian will be a long sit for younger kids. And even though it’s based on an influential comic book series, you might find it hard to follow, regardless of your age. OK for mature tweens and older.



Kong: Skull Island (2017) 75%

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

Kids around 9 or 10 and older will love this big, dumb monster movie — and I say that as a total compliment. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ action epic has the spirit of a classic Ray Harryhausen film with the benefit of high-tech special effects. It’s about a group of explorers who visit an uncharted island in the South Pacific in 1973 and find more danger than they ever could have imagined. They include an expert tracker (Tom Hiddleston), a war photographer (Brie Larson), the head of a shadowy government agency (John Goodman) and a military team with a no-nonsense leader (Samuel L. Jackson). But you’re not here for the people. You’re here to see King Kong, who rules the island as a fearsome and deadly but ultimately gentle giant. This is not a spoiler: If you’ve ever seen any incarnation of King Kong, you know he’s misunderstood. But he might be super-scary for very little kids, especially as he battles the many other oversized monsters that happen to call this island home. (What’s in the water surrounding this place anyway?) I brought my 7-year-old son to see Kong: Skull Island when it came out theatrically and he had a blast. It is pretty intense, though, with a lot of violence, gunfire, monster action and helicopter destruction, and not everyone makes it out alive. There’s also quite a bit of language, including the one F-bomb you get in a PG-13 movie, courtesy of the great John C. Reilly.

Tag Cloud

Disney YA independent GIFs Trailer hist Geeked Week reboot 007 die hard SXSW scene in color series Rocketman Black Mirror royal family Animation cats Election miniseries obi wan boxing spinoff gangster sag awards Classic Film TruTV Comedy Central See It Skip It anime prank scary TCA hidden camera Character Guide kong children's TV Freeform Women's History Month renewed TV shows nbcuniversal 72 Emmy Awards Indigenous razzies Superheroe HFPA binge quibi pirates of the caribbean target scene in color spanish language rom-coms 45 ghosts historical drama green book superhero 2017 game of thrones political drama NYCC DirecTV comic book movies toronto RT History Avengers Fantasy a nightmare on elm street Winter TV Rocky hispanic heritage month VOD Universal Pictures trophy BBC IMDb TV CBS All Access comic books Pop spy thriller 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Pop TV art house Acorn TV Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt television 4/20 batman broadcast hollywood kaiju Infographic legend Apple serial killer Peacock Tomatazos Holidays blockbusters Alien universal monsters Mystery Mindy Kaling medical drama Watching Series The Walking Dead rt labs critics edition ratings strong female leads Tags: Comedy asian-american Apple TV+ TV international Captain marvel Star Wars supernatural Country spider-man laika 94th Oscars slasher YouTube Premium BET Crunchyroll Disney Plus Best and Worst spanish zombies WarnerMedia CNN Pirates SundanceTV FX canceled video Neflix lord of the rings mcc game show Photos composers ViacomCBS king arthur diversity TCM dogs Christmas Television Critics Association hispanic WGN BAFTA Shudder news australia AMC Plus YouTube Red casting joker Paramount Network Horror BBC One OWN obituary Vudu 90s werewolf PBS TIFF Food Network dramedy TV One New York Comic Con christmas movies TBS GLAAD technology Wes Anderson what to watch 21st Century Fox women reviews Pacific Islander scorecard james bond Reality Competition indie book adaptation harry potter Premiere Dates Interview cartoon Spring TV Tokyo Olympics USA Fox Searchlight Tumblr MTV Thanksgiving kids docuseries dceu blockbuster superman award winner Stephen King worst movies Bravo The Witch Hallmark Christmas movies Polls and Games summer preview rotten Valentine's Day worst Focus Features Star Trek Extras DC streaming service mob CW Seed criterion IFC Mary Tyler Moore critic resources Emmys 1990s chucky cooking festivals nfl Funimation streaming young adult Song of Ice and Fire vampires romance travel satire Amazon Prime Drama USA Network zombie TV movies south america scary movies BBC America Ellie Kemper 99% animated Ovation 2016 Teen Britbox Paramount Pictures First Look period drama screenings Musicals Western YouTube ABC Signature Quiz ITV summer TV preview rt archives Heroines venice Family Trophy Talk slashers San Diego Comic-Con Pixar Lucasfilm vs. Apple TV Plus 2020 Star Wars Celebration A24 crime space Paramount Plus doctor who Cartoon Network First Reviews Comic-Con@Home 2021 book Marathons rotten movies we love revenge TCA Awards Television Academy biography Sony basketball Rock fresh VH1 TNT all-time Best Director ABC richard e. Grant TV renewals MGM live action heist movie sequels directors X-Men foreign Crackle Walt Disney Pictures 2018 Marvel Studios genre Best Actor RT21 NBA sitcom Oscar Grammys Opinion SDCC Best Actress Paramount teaser Sundance 2019 Tubi concert HBO BET Awards Lifetime Christmas movies movie El Rey Amazon Studios cancelled TV shows cancelled TV series Legendary toy story The Walt Disney Company SXSW 2022 telelvision Sundance TV ESPN breaking bad deadpool parents french critics Podcast Universal Travel Channel Shondaland cops marvel cinematic universe Trivia free movies docudrama NBC DC Comics Film Comic Book Hollywood Foreign Press Association Hallmark streaming movies Black History Month sopranos best Awards mission: impossible Arrowverse The CW Amazon Prime Video Pride Month Emmy Nominations American Society of Cinematographers new zealand comics Hear Us Out Binge Guide movies crime thriller Sony Pictures suspense monster movies action-comedy Turner Classic Movies theme song spain stop motion jamie lee curtis emmy awards IFC Films biopic robots canceled TV shows MCU FXX dc crossover Super Bowl Schedule Showtime comiccon Kids & Family Tarantino ABC Family films Marvel Television Sneak Peek cancelled mockumentary social media Countdown japanese GoT Discovery Channel Columbia Pictures Chilling Adventures of Sabrina halloween tv rt labs Amazon boxoffice based on movie indiana jones Elton John Masterpiece golden globes Film Festival name the review Music wonder woman cults DC Universe ID Best Picture Fall TV Esquire FOX AMC Writers Guild of America latino dragons scene in color film series witnail FX on Hulu Dark Horse Comics versus remakes aapi transformers Sundance Now Comics on TV classics Winners Spike disaster Nominations Rom-Com Disney Channel jurassic park LGBT 73rd Emmy Awards Lifetime Warner Bros. CMT Toys Awards Tour Mudbound documentaries psychological thriller Disney+ Disney Plus Fox News fast and furious 24 frames cars Calendar 20th Century Fox japan Comedy South by Southwest Film Festival saw 2015 Box Office VICE Anna Paquin football cinemax festival interviews olympics Nickelodeon LGBTQ child's play aliens Mary Poppins Returns President Native live event Epix screen actors guild natural history posters politics Broadway nature police drama Ghostbusters twilight Hulu documentary elevated horror Year in Review CBS Brie Larson Endgame war adventure king kong popular Martial Arts target Biopics series leaderboard 2021 National Geographic thriller high school new york italian Musical 93rd Oscars DGA Instagram Live crime drama Action justice league godzilla Lionsgate feel good Exclusive Video new star wars movies blaxploitation HBO Go APB Marvel franchise marvel comics Cannes spider-verse black Logo Mary poppins TCA Winter 2020 Baby Yoda HBO Max archives Image Comics discovery trailers summer TV Oscars adenture Superheroes A&E OneApp facebook psycho Pet Sematary Summer Academy Awards comedies sequel Video Games Cosplay Sci-Fi tv talk TV Land History The Academy science fiction Holiday video on demand adaptation 79th Golden Globes Awards cancelled television Prime Video Disney streaming service anthology Spectrum Originals MSNBC black comedy dreamworks know your critic The Purge romantic comedy PaleyFest finale Chernobyl Fargo sports dark true crime TCA 2017 comic scene in color Red Carpet Reality Certified Fresh streamig Turner Creative Arts Emmys E! mutant talk show Nat Geo Netflix Christmas movies Set visit zero dark thirty debate stoner stand-up comedy comic book movie golden globe awards halloween Starz Syfy E3 singing competition Netflix The Arrangement PlayStation Adult Swim 71st Emmy Awards TLC dexter unscripted