Parental Guidance

How Family-Friendly are X-Men: Apocalypse and Alice Through the Looking Glass?

by | May 27, 2016 | Comments

We’ve got two big movies this week that are likely to draw younger crowds — the latest in the X-Men franchise and the sequel to Disney’s live-action Alice in Wonderland — so there’s plenty for Christy to talk about. In addition, an earnest ocean rescue movie and a cheeky sequel to a comedy cult classic are on DVD, so read on for all the details.



X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) 47%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images.

It’s the early 1980s in the latest X-Men extravaganza, which picks up after the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) is running his school for gifted children outside New York City and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is living a quiet life with his family in the woods of Poland. When an ancient, powerful mutant named Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) awakens with plans to decimate the globe, the X-Men (and women) must unite to stop him. There’s a massive amount of fighting and destruction, as you’d expect from any summer blockbuster based on comic book characters. There’s also a quiet, poignant scene in which a character’s family is slain. Apocalypse is a hulking, frightening figure who wreaks havoc, and the mystical process through which he gains his power might disturb some younger viewers. There’s also some profanity, including the one well-placed F-bomb you get with a PG-13 rating. This is probably OK for kids around 10 and older, especially if they’re already familiar with the series.

Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) 29%

Rating: PG, for fantasy action/peril and some language.

The sequel to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland is a noisy hodgepodge of garish images, frantically fanciful characters, and massive set pieces that only vaguely resemble the Lewis Carroll source material. This time, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) must travel to the past and stop a terrible event from occurring to keep her friend, The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), from being sad. Those are truly the paltry stakes, but Alice is willing to risk tearing apart the fabric of the time-space continuum to make it happen. The Red Queen (Helena Bonham-Carter) is loud and angry, and her enormous head might freak out some younger viewers. As part of her time-traveling adventure, Alice must escape a massive fire, the work of the fearsome, dragon-like Jabberwock. And there is a climactic sequence that suggests all the characters might be frozen in time eternally. I brought my 6-year-old son with me to the screening and nothing bothered him. It’s probably suitable for kids around 8 and older, but it’s also not very good.



The Finest Hours (2016) 64%

Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of peril.

Tweens and older are probably fine watching this extremely earnest, old-fashioned drama. It’s based on the true story of an oil tanker that got sliced in half during a powerful blizzard off Cape Cod in 1952, and the plucky Coast Guard team that dared brave the elements to rescue the men aboard. Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, and Holliday Grainger are among the large ensemble cast. There are several intense moments here with both the tanker’s crew and the Coast Guard team in constant danger of death. The waves are massive, the winds are punishing and the downpour is incessant. And as the tanker takes on more water, it looks unlikely that anyone on board will survive. Given that this is a Disney movie, though, you can guess what happens.

Zoolander No. 2 (2016) 22%

Rating: PG-13, for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong language.

The action has been amped up in the sequel to Zoolander, the 2001 comedy starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as idiotic male models and rivals. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the exact same movie, only crammed with even more pop culture references, celebrity cameos and jokes about the absurdity of the fashion world. This time, Derek Zoolander (Stiller, who also directs) and Hansel (Wilson) reluctantly reteam in Rome to walk the runway once more and perhaps prevent a massive crime the diabolical designer Mugatu (Will Ferrell) is planning. Zoolander also reconnects with his son, Derek Jr. (Cyrus Arnold), a brilliant, chubby kid who’s been living in an orphanage. There’s a running gag involving Hansel’s fondness for orgies, and although the movie never shows any actual sexual activity, it’s implied that he likes to get it on with men, women and animals alike. Famous people (including Justin Bieber) are killed for laughs and there’s the climactic possibility of a bomb exploding in a lava pit. This is probably OK for mature pre-teens and older, but they should avoid it if they can.