Of course, if your kids have grown up watching Marvel movies, they’re going to want to see the latest installment of the Thor franchise, especially since it’s so colorful and zany. Christy lets you know what to look out for in that film, and she goes out of her way to recommend a couple of others for older kids and teens. Read on for details.
NOW IN THEATERS
Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material.
The latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a complete blast from start to finish: cheeky, snappy and self-referential. The threat of cataclysmic mayhem hovers over the proceedings at all times, but director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Eagle vs. Shark) somehow manages to keep things brisk, light, and frequently zany. And he’s got an excellent cast to work with here. This time, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must team up with his old friend and fellow Avenger, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and an alcoholic bounty hunter (a charismatic Tessa Thompson) to stop the villainous goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett), from triggering the predicted destruction known as Ragnarok. As is so often the case in these comic-book blockbusters, there are massive battle sequences in which entire armies of men perish, but their deaths are quick and bloodless. At the film’s start, Thor must take on a huge, fiery monster, which might seem scary for younger viewers. Thor and Hulk also brutally battle each other in a coliseum setting. While Blanchett is clearly having a blast camping and vamping it up as Hela, she also might be frightening to littler kids. And there’s a scattering of profanity throughout. I brought my 8-year-old son to a screening and he loved it, but there was one image involving Thor’s eye that he found disturbing. But if your kids are familiar with these characters and this world, they’ll have a great time. Fine for viewers around 9 or 10 and older.
Rating: R, for language, sexual content, brief graphic nudity, and teen partying.
It’s rated R, but Lady Bird is so beautifully written and acted – so achingly sweet and true – that I wanted to recommend it here. Greta Gerwig’s feature directing debut is semi-autobiographical, but even if you didn’t know that going in, you’d quickly realize how intimate and personal her film is. Saoirse Ronan stars as the title character – or, rather, that’s the name the high school senior has given herself to feel more exotic in the mundane suburbs of Sacramento, California. (Her real name is Christine.) Lady Bird is a coming-of-age movie, with all the mistakes and heartaches that would suggest. There’s frank talk about sex and eventually we see her lose her virginity; Lady Bird actually has a couple of different boyfriends during the course of the movie. There’s also teen partying – drinking and smoking – as well as language throughout. But this is such an insightful film with such a lovely performance from Ronan – perhaps a career best from the two-time Oscar nominee – that I’d highly recommend it for viewers around 13 or 14 and older as they’re enduring their own adolescent angst.
Rating: Not rated, but contains drinking, some drug material, language, sexuality, nudity and mature situations.
Like Lady Bird, Princess Cyd is a refreshingly honest, realistic look at a teenager navigating a pivotal period in her life. Jessie Pinnick stars as Cyd, a 16-year-old who goes to live with her novelist aunt (Rebecca Spence) in Chicago for a few weeks during the summer. While she’s there, she learns more about her mother (who was her aunt’s sister), who died tragically 10 years earlier. She also learns about herself when she becomes involved romantically with an outgoing, confident lesbian (Malic White) who’s the barista at the neighborhood coffee bar. There’s quite a bit of kissing, some nudity and one sex scene, but it isn’t graphic. Cyd also shares a joint (and some kisses) with a handsome young man who’s a friend of her aunt’s and drinks some champagne at a party. And there’s the suggestion that a character is the victim of an attempted sexual assault. But there’s so much to recommend here. Writer-director Stephen Cone’s film unfolds naturally, with an effortless sense of place and well-drawn characters. Some of the material may be too grown-up for tweens, but this would be an excellent choice for viewers around 13 or 14 and older.
New on DVD
Rating: PG-13, for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action.
This Stephen King adaptation wasn’t exactly a giant hit when it came out this summer – it made a disappointing $51 million domestically – but if your kids are curious about catching up with it, it’s probably OK for tweens and older. The long-awaited feature-film version of the revered King series will be too much for younger viewers, yet not enough for everyone else. It’s about portals and time travel and monsters and gun battles, but while the original mythology is dense, director Nikolaj Arcel’s adaptation of it feels truncated and rushed. Idris Elba stars as the legendary Gunslinger, who’s long been searching for the devilish Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) to keep him from destroying the Dark Tower, which stands in the middle of the universe to protect against evil forces. Only the psychically gifted Jake (Tom Taylor), a misfit Manhattan kid who’s had visions of such destruction, can save us all. While the visual effects often look muddled, the violence within them is unmistakable: vicious beasts that attack out of nowhere; fiery, hellish images of mass suffering; prolonged gun fights that result in many casualties. Children are abducted from around the world and placed in torturous devices to do the Man in Black’s bidding. Both Jake and the Gunslinger must deal with the deaths of people who are important to them. And McConaughey’s character also has psychic powers, which he usually uses to kill people. Overall, it’s not very good, but it is very intense.