The big movie this week is the latest installment in the Fast and Furious franchise, but there’s also a Certified Fresh limited release you might be thinking of checking out. One’s got lots of car chases and explosions, and the other follows a perilous jungle adventure, but both are probably just a tad too much for younger viewers… for different reasons. Read on for Christy’s advice on both, as well as a handful of new releases on DVD.
NOW IN THEATERS
Rating: PG-13, for prolonged sequences of violence and destruction, suggestive content, and language.
It’s all about family, as it always is in The Fast and the Furious franchise, but that doesn’t necessarily mean this movie is suitable for everyone in your family. This eighth film in the series is just as nutty as its predecessors in terms of giant action set pieces, but it’s also extremely violent in ways large and small. It’s got everything from hand-to-hand combat, gunfights, shootings, and stabbings to cars dropping out of windows in the middle of New York City and a submarine emerging from the ice in middle-of-nowhere Russia. And for one extended sequence aboard an airplane, a baby in a car seat is in danger. Oh, and there’s a plot, too: A hacker (Charlize Theron) forces Dom (Vin Diesel) to turn against his F&F fam and help her with a nuclear terrorism plot. Not that it matters. Massive, fiery destruction ensues. Director F. Gary Gray’s film also features quite a bit of language scattered throughout and the requisite amount of gyrating, scantily clad ladies. Probably OK for viewers around 12 or 13 and older.
Rating: PG-13, for violence, disturbing images, brief strong language and some nudity.
Charlie Hunnam stars in this true story of Percy Fawcett, an explorer who set out in the 1920s to prove the existence of a long-lost South American civilization. He made several journeys to the Amazon, all of which were treacherous and potentially deadly. But Fawcett kept going back for more – and even brought his teenage son along at one point — as new clues tantalized him and stoked his obsession. There are plenty of guns and shootings, including hunting, with smoking and language throughout. The natives frequently seem threatening. And the ending is a bit ambiguous, which could lead to some confusion. Older kids might be interested in the adventurous elements of writer-director James Gray’s film, but the pacing is deliberately languid in his typical style, which could make The Lost City of Z a tough sit for younger viewers. I’d say this is suitable for kids around 12 or 13 and older.
NEW ON DVD
Rating: PG, for thematic elements and some language.
Viewers around age 7 or 8 will be fine watching this real-life drama, which was nominated for three Academy Awards including best picture. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae star as three of the brilliant black women who helped NASA with crucial mathematical calculations as the United States began launching rockets into space. Because this was 1961 Virginia, they faced institutionalized racism and sexism daily, but they maintained their integrity and dignity and became invaluable to the space program. Director Theodore Melfi’s film shows them interacting with police and cruel co-workers and being forced to use segregated bathrooms, buses and libraries. The discrimination they dealt with may be uncomfortable or confusing for younger viewers, but it also may provide an opportunity for a discussion about the history of race relations in the United States. There’s a tiny bit of language and kissing, and the two-hour running time may make it a tough sit for little kids. But Hidden Figures is a well-made, feel-good story full of excellent role models for both girls and boys to see.
Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and some sensuality.
Nominated for six Academy Awards including best picture, this real-life drama follows the journey of a young man searching for his family and the small, impoverished Indian town he became lost from as a child. Sunny Pawar plays Saroo as a 5-year-old boy, who follows his older brother to find work and ends up alone on a train many hundreds of miles away. He doesn’t know where he lives or how to get back and ends up living on the streets, briefly, in danger and squalor. It’s tough to watch. Eventually, a family adopts him and brings him home with them to Tasmania. But as an adult 25 years later (played by Dev Patel), Saroo begins to wonder who he is and where he came from. He uses Google Earth to find his village and rediscover his identity. Director Garth Davis’ film features some language and smoking, and the images of the harsh lives these young, homeless children endure are quite disturbing. But Lion is ultimately uplifting, with worthwhile messages about perseverance and family. Fine for viewers around 11 or 12 and older.
Rating: PG, for action, peril, brief scary images, and some rude humor.
Kids around 6 or 7 and older will be fine watching this family-friendly adventure. After all, it’s about a truck… fueled by a monster. Hence the name. So if you have young children who are into either of those things, they should have a decent time. Your mileage may vary, however. Lucas Till stars as a teenager living in small-town North Dakota who discovers a friendly, oil-guzzling monster. While a scientist studies the creature’s two other buddies in a lab, Till’s character, Tripp, protects his new pal (whom he names Creech) and even lets him power his truck. But bad guys are on their way – and they have guns. Grown-ups might find the adventures, which include car chases and crashes, rather lame and flimsy. And there’s a bit of chaste romance between Tripp and a young woman (Jane Levy) with a knack for science. But somewhere in here is a message about fighting greedy oil executives, protecting animals, and treasuring the environment. And of course: teamwork.