Parental Guidance

How Family-Friendly Are Inferno and Boo! A Madea Halloween?

by | October 28, 2016 | Comments

This week’s big new release is the latest in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code franchise, starring Tom Hanks, as well as Tyler Perry’s Halloween-themed outing as Madea from last week and another unique documentary from Werner Herzog. Christy Lemire lets us know how age-appropriate they are.



Inferno (2016) 23%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of action and violence, disturbing images, some language, thematic elements and brief sensuality.

The third film based on Dan Brown’s best-selling novels about symbols and sinister secrets isn’t much better than its predecessors – The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons – but it is more disturbing in its imagery. Ron Howard once again directs Tom Hanks as Harvard professor Robert Langdon, whose mission this time is to stop a high-tech plague from killing billions of people worldwide. Along the way, he finds himself plagued by hellish visions of bodies burning and writhing in pain and surging rivers of blood. Several characters also get shot or stabbed to death in their pursuit of Langdon and his latest sidekick, a brilliant young doctor (Felicity Jones). There’s also a bit of language and a brief love scene. Inferno is mostly silly, but it can be extremely scary and intense at times. This is one of those instances in which PG-13 really does mean that viewers under 13 shouldn’t see it.

Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016) 19%

Rating: PG-13, for drug use and references, suggestive content, language, some horror images and thematic material.

I wanted to come back to this one since it didn’t screen for critics before opening day last week. Dedicated professional that I am, though, I spent actual money to attend a matinee showing. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea movie is very much in the same vein as the many others he’s starred in, written, and directed. Once again, the 6-foot-5 Perry dons a dress and wig to play his signature character, the thoroughly inappropriate Madea, as well as Madea’s nephew, Brian, and Brian’s father, Joe. This time, Madea and her randy, elderly pals try to break up a Halloween fraternity party that Brian’s 17-year-old daughter has attended without permission. Expect lots of language and jokes about pot smoking, stripping, getting arrested, and whooping children who don’t behave. And because it’s a Halloween movie, you’re also in for scary clowns, zombies, and the image of a young woman with her throat slashed. Once again, this really isn’t for anyone under 13.

Into the Inferno (2016) 92%

Rating: N/A

This is a Werner Herzog documentary about volcanoes, and it’s everything you’d want in a Werner Herzog documentary about volcanoes: dramatic imagery, thunderous sound design and remote locations. And as always, he narrates in that wonderfully thick German accent of his, delighting us with tales of the dangers we’re witnessing. Herzog and volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer travel around the globe, including stops in Iceland, Ethiopia, and North Korea, exploring the wonder and power of these fiery forces. But they also illuminate us on the cultural significance volcanoes have to these various peoples. Some of the scenes may seem startling but it’s always dazzlingly beautiful, and the film as a whole is a great educational experience, regardless of your age. Fine for all viewers – and a great way to chalk up your kid’s first Herzog film.



Nerve (2016) 67%

Rating: PG-13, for thematic material involving dangerous and risky behavior, some sexual content, language, drug content, drinking and nudity – all involving teens.

Your tweens and young teens will probably want to see this, and that might be OK with you – provided you explain to them that they should NOT try any of the movie’s crazy stunts at home. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco co-star in this action thriller about teens playing a dangerous online game of dare. They and many others across the country have signed onto an app called Nerve, in which you can either watch or take part in an increasingly risky series of challenges for money. The pranks are harmless at first – embarrassing stuff in public – but become more demanding and possibly deadly depending on what the watchers want the players to do. It doesn’t seem terribly implausible; given the summer of Pokemon Go we just experienced, walking around with your phone and interacting with strangers in wild ways actually makes sense. But the film grows tense and violent with stunts involving motorcycles, trains, fire, skyscrapers and guns. The lead characters end up in their underwear at a luxury department store and they kiss several times. One bad-girl cheerleader flashes her naked rear end during a football game. And there’s quite a bit of teen partying.

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