Parental Guidance

How Family-Friendly are The LEGO Batman Movie and A United Kingdom?

by | February 10, 2017 | Comments

John Wick: Chapter 2 and Fifty Shades Darker are obviously not for children, while The LEGO Batman Movie most certainly is. With that in mind Christy lets us know what we can expect from the latter, as well as the based-on-true-events drama A United Kingdom and a handful of new DVD releases. Read on for details.


NOW IN THEATERS

 

The Lego Batman Movie (2017) 90%

Rating: PG, for rude humor and some action.

Everything is awesome, again, but now Batman is front and center for this high-energy, self-referential animated extravaganza. This spin-off of 2014’s The Lego Movie finds Batman (voiced once again with wonderfully gravelly arrogance by Will Arnett) fighting to remain relevant as Gotham’s hero. He’s also struggling with an existential crisis, as the arrival of sidekick Robin (Michael Cera) forces him to accept the possibility that he might actually need a family. The humor is rapid-fire but never mean, and while there’s violence and destruction throughout, it’s silly and playful. This is a movie in which characters make “pew pew pew” noises while they’re firing at each other with plastic guns. Many villains show up from both comic books and other pop-culture realms, but they’re depicted in such a goofy way that they’re never scary. And ultimately, the themes of allowing people into your life to help you and creating your own sense of family are worthwhile. Fine for all ages.


A United Kingdom (2017) 84%

Rating: PG-13, for some language including racial epithets and a scene of sensuality.

David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike star in this true story based on an interracial marriage that caused an international uproar. Oyelowo plays Seretse Khama, the former king of Botswana (then called Bechuanaland, and a British protectorate) who dared to marry Pike’s Ruth Williams, a white British woman, in 1947 London. He brought her home to Africa to make her the queen of his people, but neither of them could have predicted the massive repercussions such an intimate decision could have caused. This is a well-acted and well-made but restrained drama. The couple endures racial slurs as well as rejection from both of their families. Director Amma Asante also shows us the kind of segregation that was prevalent at the time, especially as apartheid was beginning to take hold in neighboring South Africa. There’s a bit of language and the suggestion that the couple has sex on their wedding night. But it’s also an inspiring story of perseverance, loyalty and love. I’d say this is fine for tweens and older.


NEW ON DVD

 

Loving (2016) 89%

Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements.

Ruth Negga deservedly earned an Academy Award nomination for best actress for her elegant, nuanced work in this inspiring drama. She and Joel Edgerton star in writer-director Jeff Nichols’ film, which is based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving. They were an interracial couple at a time and place – 1958 Virginia – where such a union was unusual. He was white, she was black, and they had a baby on way. While the two married legally in Washington DC, they found themselves persecuted back home in rural Virginia, where the practice was still against the law. Their fight to keep their family together, which went all the way to the Supreme Court, changed the laws regarding interracial marriage nationwide. Along the way, though, they were forced from their home, jailed and separated. This is a quietly intense movie with some disturbing language and dialogue, as well as a scene of a child getting hit by a car. But it’s beautifully written, shot and acted, making it appropriate – and recommended – for viewers around 12 and older.


Trolls (2016) 76%

Rating: PG, for some mild rude humor.

There’s a Troll that poops cupcakes and another who farts glitter – but even that’s kind of cute. Otherwise, this candy-colored animated musical is totally fine for all ages. The Trolls sing and dance and hug, then sing and dance and hug some more. They’re a clan full of cuddly critters who enjoy expressing their constant happiness through song. If you’re a parent, you may find this incessant cheeriness super annoying. Kids will love it, though, whether or not they’ve ever heard of the high-haired Troll dolls that inspired the movie. Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake lead an all-star voice cast in this adventure in which the Trolls try to avoid being captured and devoured by a group of grumpy ogres known as the Bergens. You see, the Bergens believe if they eat a Troll, they won’t be so miserable anymore. It’s basically a parable about the importance of finding the happiness that lies within us all – which is kind of a simplistic message, but not a terrible one for kids to hear. The Trolls are frequently in danger, and while the Bergens are grotesque, they’re never truly frightening.


 

Almost Christmas (2016) 49%

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

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, but if this Christmas comedy cries out to you instead, it’ll probably be fine for the kids in your house who are around 10 and older. This is your annual wacky, dysfunctional-family holiday movie. Danny Glover, Mo’Nique, Gabrielle Union, Romany Malco, Kimberly Elise, and JB Smoove are among the large ensemble cast, playing members of a family gathering for their first Christmas after the death of their beloved matriarch. Long-held resentments explode and madcap hilarity ensues. Director David E. Talbert’s film is actually better written and acted than most films of this sentimental genre, though. There’s quite a bit of language – most of which comes from the hilariously brash Mo’Nique — and some grown-up situations involving infidelity and drug abuse. But ultimately, its themes of forgiveness and reconciliation are worthwhile.

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