Parental Guidance

How Family-Friendly are Southside With You and The Hollars?

by | August 26, 2016 | Comments

The biggest movies this week — Don’t Breathe and Mechanic: Resurrection — are both rated R, but there are still a couple of smaller films you could potentially take your kids to, including the story of Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date and a dysfunctional family comedy. Read on for details.



Southside With You (2016) 92%

Rating: PG-13, for brief strong language, smoking, a violent image and a drug reference.

This walking-and-talking romance recreates the first date between Barack and Michelle Obama, back when they were in their mid-20s with dreams of changing the world. Parker Sawyers plays the future president when he was still just a charismatic law student, with Tika Sumpter co-starring as the future first lady, his superior at the Chicago law firm where he worked during the summer of 1989. The two spend the day together on the city’s South side – hence the title – visiting an art exhibit, attending a community meeting, seeing a movie (Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing) and finally sharing a climactic ice cream cone. There’s a bit of language. The young Obama smokes cigarettes pretty much non-stop and jokes about smoking too much pot in college. We also see a snippet of the riot scene in Do the Right Thing as the couple is watching it in a theater. But this is a really lovely, intimate, beautifully acted film. I’d say it’s fine for viewers around age 10 and older, especially if they have an interest in history or politics.

The Hollars (2016) 46%

Rating: PG-13, for brief language and some thematic material.

It’s an entire subgenre unto itself: the indie comedy-drama about a guy in his 30s who goes back to his small town to deal with his wacky, dysfunctional family and learn some important life lessons. The Hollars hits all the notes you expect so frequently, it almost feels like a parody of this kind of Sundance standard. But no, John Krasinski actually means it as both director and star. Krasinski plays an aspiring graphic artist named John Hollar who gets a call that his mother (Margo Martindale) is ailing. Once he returns home, he reconnects with his father (Richard Jenkins), whose business is going bankrupt, as well as his divorced, ne’er-do-well brother (Sharlto Copley). John also has a pregnant girlfriend (Anna Kendrick), who eventually shows up, too, as well as a former girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who’s now married to his mother’s nurse (Charlie Day). Madcap antics abound. There’s some heavier stuff, too, involving the mother’s illness, her need for surgery and whether she can survive. There’s a bit of surreptitious, anxiety-induced smoking. And there’s some scattered language, including the one F-bomb you’re allowed with a PG-13 movie, which Copley gets the pleasure of screaming. This is OK for viewers around 10 or 11 and older.



Ratchet & Clank (2016) 21%

Rating: PG, for action and some rude humor.

Kids around ages 6 or 7 and older will be OK watching this animated family comedy. It’s based on the sci-fi video game of the same name about the adventures of a cat-like creature named Ratchet, who’s a mechanic, and Clank, his robot friend. The two team up with a group of Galactic Rangers to stop the villainous Chairman Drek (voiced by Paul Giamatti) from blowing up various planets for his own nefarious purposes. John Goodman, Rosario Dawson, Sylvester Stallone, and Bella Thorne are also among the starry voice cast. This movie is pretty harmless but it’s also not very good. The jokes are flat, the antics are noisy and the overall tone is annoyingly cheeky. As for whether it’s appropriate for your kids, though, there’s a bit of action violence but it’s never scary. There is some weaponry and we see a few explosions, but it’s cartoonish in every sense of the word. I brought my son (who was 6 ½ at the time) to a screening of the movie and nothing bothered him.

The Huntsman: Winter's War (2016) 18%

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

Viewers around 9 or 10 and older should be fine with this sorta-prequel, sorta-sequel, sorta-spinoff to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Visually lush but narratively messy, it’s essentially a really angry version of Frozen, starring Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt as wicked royal sisters dueling for power. Blunt’s character, Freya, discovers she can shoot ice from her fingertips in a fit of rage and exiles herself to the snowy mountains where she builds her own kingdom and forms her own army. She rounds up and trains child soldiers for battle and explicitly instructs them not to fall in love. But two of them (Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain) — her two brightest, actually — grow up and do just that. (There are two brief love scenes — one in a hot tub, another in the forest — which suggest they have sex, but you don’t see anything.) Winter’s War also is about a quest to recover that famous mirror and, like the original film, features various strange forest creatures and digitally rendered dwarfs. Much of the combat is rather intense, and there’s a horned, roaring goblin who might seriously frighten younger kids. The special effects are quite dazzling but they also result in images that might be too scary, especially during the climactic showdown between the two sisters.

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