Parental Guidance

How Family-Friendly are Suicide Squad, The Little Prince, and This Week's Other Films?

by | August 5, 2016 | Comments

Three of the four notable films rated PG-13 or lower this week seem pretty safe for all audiences. Unfortunately, the one all the kids are going to want to see — Suicide Squad — is a gritty comic book movie about bad guys beating up worse guys. Christy lets us know how close it gets to an R rating.


NEW IN THEATERS

 

Suicide Squad (2016) 26%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and language.

Like Jason Bourne last week, Suicide Squad is right there on the edge of what you can include in an action movie without earning an R rating. The latest comic book blockbuster extravaganza – this time, based on DC Comics characters rather than Marvel – is just relentlessly violent. It’s about a group of incarcerated super villains who are offered reduced sentences if they’ll help the federal government take down even worse bad guys than they are. They include the expert marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), the crazy-sexy Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Diablo (Jay Hernandez), who blasts fire from his fingertips. It’s extremely dark thematically in terms of who these characters are, what they’ve done, and what they can do. There’s a mind-boggling amount of gunfire, as well as stabbings, brutal fistfights, zombie invasions, and witch sorcery from the powerful Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). It’s also quite hard to follow much of the time — both in terms of the story and the visuals — with so many characters and so much of the action taking place at night. And of course there is The Joker (Jared Leto), for whom mayhem and madness are his bread and butter. Don’t let the candy-colored marketing scheme fool you: This is really only OK for viewers around 12 or 13 and older.


Nine Lives (2016) 14%

Rating: PG, for thematic elements, language and some rude humor.

Kevin Spacey stars as billionaire industrialist Tom Brand, a high-flying egomaniac who gets trapped inside the body of a cat to learn a lesson about the importance of family. No, really. At least director Barry Sonnenfeld had the decency to refrain from making it look as if the cat’s mouth is moving; still, the dialogue Spacey and his co-stars are stuck with is pretty lame. The stuff you probably imagine your own cat thinking is probably far more entertaining. The movie as a whole, though, is harmless for viewers of all ages. The cat – which has the delightful name of Mr. Fuzzypants — gets into all sorts of shenanigans and frequently seems to be in peril but always ends up safe. One night, he figures out how to open a decanter of 50-year-old Scotch, pours it into an ashtray, laps it up like milk and gets wasted. Cheryl Hines also boozes frequently as Tom’s ex; Jennifer Garner co-stars as his loyal and patient second wife. Various characters fall from the roof of Brand’s new skyscraper but always turn out fine. And Mr. Fuzzypants pees on things frequently to express his frustration. Your kids will probably cackle with glee at the cat’s antics, though. You could do worse in August.


The Little Prince (2015) 93%

Rating: PG, for mild thematic elements.

This animated take on the classic Antoine de Saint-Exupery story is dazzlingly beautiful, colorful, and full of whimsy. It follows the basic story of an aviator (voiced by Jeff Bridges) who crashes his plane in the desert, where he meets a little boy (Riley Osborne) who claims he’s a prince. But it places that story in the modern day, with the aging pilot recounting his adventures in flashbacks for the young girl (Mackenzie Foy) who just moved in next door with her mother (Rachel McAdams). There’s some bold visual imagery here involving a greedy businessman (Albert Brooks) who wants to gather up all the stars for himself to power his empire. The little girl learns to deal with grief when the elderly aviator falls ill and has to go to the hospital. She also finds herself in slight danger while flying a plane in the fantasy sequences. But for the most part, this is a fine choice for kids of nearly all ages.


Little Men (2016) 97%

Rating: PG, for thematic elements, smoking and some language.

The latest drama from indie writer-director Ira Sachs follows the intertwined fates of two families with 13-year-old sons. When shy, smart Jake (Theo Taplitz) moves with his parents (Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Ehle) into his deceased grandfather’s Brooklyn apartment, he quickly makes an unlikely friend: the swaggering, bighearted Tony (Michael Barbieri), whose mother (Paulina Garcia) owns the dress shop downstairs. As the two kids bond, a rift forms between their parents when Jake’s dad approaches Tony’s mom with a proposal to raise her lease on the store. Tweens and young teens will probably connect with the friendship between these boys who initially seem so different. Much of the film’s low-key action takes place through their eyes as they explore the neighborhood together on sidewalks and subways. The more grown-up talk of real-estate troubles and financial realities will go over younger viewers’ heads. But there’s not much language and only the vaguest talk of interest in girls. This is a fine choice for kids around 10 and older.


NEW ON DVD

 

Mother's Day (2016) 8%

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

The final movie from veteran director Garry Marshall, who died last month at age 81, is yet another of his holiday-themed ensemble comedies following Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. Sadly, it is not his best film. Once again, a large, A-list cast (Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis) comes together in several intertwined storylines, all of which are meant to celebrate the joys and challenges of motherhood. There is language scattered throughout, including the one F-bomb you get in a PG-13 movie, which Aniston gets to drop. There’s a running bit in which a couple of racist parents from Texas (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine) make inappropriate comments about their daughter’s Indian husband. But while the content is mostly harmless, it’s also terrible. There’s not a single authentic moment in the entire movie — which, at a couple minutes under two hours, feels like a massive slog. Avoid, regardless of age – and maybe re-watch Marshall’s The Flamingo Kid with your family instead.