Parental Guidance

How Family-Friendly are Independence Day: Resurgence and The Shallows?

by | June 24, 2016 | Comments

This week, Christy lets us know whether or not the big sci-fi blockbuster or the smaller — but possibly more thrilling — shark attack movie might be too intense for younger viewers. Then she also revisits a couple of movies now available on DVD, in case you choose to stay home with the little ones. Read on for details.



Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) 30%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of sci-fi action and destruction and for some language.

The aliens are back, and this time they want… more of the same thing they wanted before, maybe? Not that it matters, because this sequel to the 1996 smash-hit blockbuster Independence Day is all about the spectacle. And it is big, shiny and noisy in the over-the-top tradition of Roland Emmerich, but without the kind of visceral thrills you usually get with the director’s outlandish action extravaganzas. Twenty years after the original film’s alien battle, humans have learned to use their technology for everything from space exploration to getting across town more efficiently. But just as America is about to celebrate the anniversary of that victory, the aliens return — in a spaceship that’s 3,000 miles wide, no less — to lock onto our planet and drill into its core for resources. Or something. Anyway, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner are back — Will Smith opted out, wisely — fighting alongside newcomers Liam Neeson, Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher, William Fichtner, and (in the strangest bit of casting of all) Charlotte Gainsbourg. There’s massive urban destruction, ostensibly resulting in massive death, little of which we actually see. The aliens are big, gooey and relentless in typical alien fashion. Children are in peril — a school bus full of them, for good measure. There’s a bit of language. And there are lots of battles in which human and alien ships shoot green lasers at each other that go “Pew! Pew! Pew!” I brought my 6 ½-year-old son with me (because he’d seen the original Independence Day and was actually curious to know what could possibly happen next) and he was never scared, but he also slept through about half of it. Lucky him. As for your kids, they’ll probably be OK if they’re around 10 and older.

The Shallows (2016) 78%

Rating: PG-13, for bloody images, intense sequences of peril, and brief strong language.

It’s Blake Lively vs. Shark: Who will win?! That’s the premise of this lean, mean genre picture. Lively stars as a young woman who goes surfing alone at a secluded beach in Mexico. Ignoring warnings to come out of the water before it gets too dark, she stays for one last wave and becomes the target of a particularly insistent great white shark. It’s pretty gnarly, I gotta say – in all the best ways. Lively’s character suffers a serious bite on the leg and stitches up the bloody limb in clever, makeshift fashion. The few other people who exist in this remote setting don’t fare nearly so well. She’s in constant peril but she’s also incredibly resourceful as she runs through her options for survival. And she gets the one well-chosen F-bomb you’re allowed in a PG-13 movie. This is an intense, frightening, well-made, and surprisingly fun little movie. Kids around 12 or 13 and older will be fine watching it.



My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016) 27%

Rating: PG-13, for some suggestive material.

Viewers around 9 or 10 will probably be fine watching this sequel to the 2002 surprise hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding, although I’m not sure why they’d want to do that. The wacky Portokalos family is back in all its overbearing, obnoxious glory. And yes, there is indeed another big, fat, Greek wedding. This time, Toula (writer and star Nia Vardalos) must help orchestrate the event when it turns out that her parents (Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan) never were married officially 50 years ago in Greece because the priest didn’t sign the certificate. Madcap hilarity (and lots of Windex spritzing) ensue. The only possibly offensive part of this movie is the thoroughly inappropriate sex talk from Toula’s outspoken Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin). She also buys Toula a racy, red negligee to help her spice things up with Ian (John Corbett), the WASPy dude she married in the first film.

Midnight Special (2016) 84%

Rating: PG-13, for some violence and action.

Mature tweens and older will probably be fine watching this sci-fi thriller from indie auteur Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud), which reunites him with the great Michael Shannon. This time, Shannon plays the father of a young boy (Jaeden Lieberher) whose mysterious powers make him a prophet for some and a target for others. Father and son go on the run with the help of an old friend (Joel Edgerton) as they try to elude both the religious cult to which they’d belonged and federal authorities. There’s great tension throughout as well as some startling special effects, including chunks of a satellite raining down on a gas station. The boy’s eyes beam a bright light at various points, which may be frightening for younger viewers to see, and he’s in constant danger. There’s also a bit of gunfire. But it’s a powerfully written and acted story about a father-son bond, sacrifice, and love.

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