There’s one big movie out in theaters this week, and it’s likely to attract viewers of all ages, so before you take your littlest ones to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Christy offers an assessment of its PG-13 rating. Read on for her take, as well as her thoughts on transgender drama 3 Generations and a couple of DVD releases.
NOW IN THEATERS
Rating: PG-13, for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive content.
The follow-up to the 2014 surprise summer smash finds the Guardians getting caught up in another galactic adventure. And bickering – always bickering. Along the way to saving the day, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) – or Star-Lord, as he prefers to be called – learns the true identity of his long-lost father. Once again, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista) and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) are along for the ride, as well as the tiny Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). And similar to Diesel’s Fast and Furious franchise, the Guardians sequel is all about #family. There’s a ton of big, shiny, comic book-movie violence and action here: fights, chases, swordplay, and gunfire of the outer-space variety. There’s also a ton of language – mainly from the saucy Rocket. Star-Lord and Gamora enjoy some more romantic tension. And there’s some grown-up humor that’ll probably go over kids’ heads. I brought my son with me to a screening and he did fine – but he’s also seen a lot of Marvel movies in his 7½ years. The themes of loyalty, perseverance, and creating your own family are valuable. And kids will love the insanely adorable Baby Groot. I’d say this is suitable for viewers around 10 and older.
Rating: PG-13, for or mature thematic content, some sexual references and language.
Elle Fanning stars in this well-intentioned indie drama as Ray, a transgender teen living in New York City. He was born Ramona, but knew from a young age that he was a boy trapped in a girl’s body. Director and co-writer Gaby Dellal follows the conflict as Ray’s single mom (Naomi Watts) and lesbian grandmother (Susan Sarandon) struggle to accept his desire to transition fully through hormone therapy. It’s worthwhile subject matter for young people to learn more about, but quite a bit of the dialogue is mature and emotionally complicated. Several teenage characters discuss sex and body parts frankly in a bragging sort of way. We also see a couple of adult characters in bed after an afternoon tryst. And there’s quite a bit of language scattered throughout, including the one F-bomb allowed with a PG-13 rating. While the film itself skims the surface of a complex topic, it also has positive themes about communication and dedication. Fine for viewers ages 13 and older.
NEW ON DVD
Rating: PG, for thematic elements and some peril.
Have tissues nearby if you plan on watching this. There’s no way you won’t cry, several times, at the shamelessly heart-tugging sight of adorable dogs dying over and over again. Director Lasse Hallstrom’s film is supposed to be inspirational, though. It’s a hokey story about a dog named Bailey (voiced by a perky Josh Gad) whose spirit is repeatedly reincarnated over several decades. He finds himself inside a German shepherd police dog and a corgi who befriends a college student, among others. Yes, this is a concept that requires you to make giant leaps in faith. But the script is also full of melodramatic situations and barely-drawn characters. Younger viewers may not perceive all that, but they’ll probably find the sight of dogs in danger and dying rather disturbing. One version of Bailey gets shot and another is abandoned in the cold, dark night. There is eventual uplift, though, and the possibility of redemption. I brought my son with me to a screening and he didn’t find anything frightening. “I liked all of it,” he said. This movie is terrible, but it’s also terribly effective.
Rating: PG-13, for violence/terror, thematic elements, some sexuality and brief drug material.
Kids around 12 or 13 should be fine watching the latest in the Japanese-inspired Ring franchise, and this actually may not seem all that scary to them if they’ve seen the previous horror movies. It’s basically more of the same, only with updated technology — but depending on how your kids respond to scary movies, it may be too much for them. This sorta-sequel, sorta-reboot finds the infamous VHS tape resurfacing at a flea market. That’s where a college professor (Johnny Galecki) finds it; later, he makes the mistake of watching it. Of course, the trick is to find someone else to watch it to get rid of the deadly, seven-day curse. This drags in various unsuspecting innocents, including a freshman student (Alex Roe) and the loyal girlfriend he left back home (Matilda Lutz). The jumpy, grainy imagery remains vaguely creepy: the sight of the stringy-haired girl climbing out the well and the subsequent, paralyzing effect her presence has on her victims. Lutz’s character does some ill-advised exploring in the dark basement of an abandoned church, where she sees disturbing visions of what happened there years earlier. And Galecki’s character lights a joint before popping the tape in for the first time.