Parental Guidance

How Family-Friendly is Beauty and the Beast?

by | March 17, 2017 | Comments

This week, Disney is releasing a live-action remake of its beloved animated musical Beauty and the Beast — you’ve probably heard about this — and Christy lets us know whether the more realistic trappings make the film too intense for younger viewers who might have been fine with the original. Read on for the details, as well as Christy’s take on a couple of new rentals.


NOW IN THEATERS

 

Beauty and the Beast (2017) 71%

Rating: PG, for some action, violence, peril, and frightening images.

The tale as old as time gets a high-tech, live-action retelling while staying mostly true to the beloved 1991 animated musical. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens star as the titular beauty and the beast. She’s a smart young woman who’s sick of being stuck in her provincial French town; he’s a surly, cursed prince who’s sick of being stuck in his massive castle. Could these two crazy kids possibly find love? Director Bill Condon’s film is visually dazzling, adding luxurious flair to all the big musical numbers you know and love (plus a few new ones that aren’t quite so great). Kids will delight in the household items coming to life and bursting into song – the clock, candelabra, teapot, and cup, for example. But there are also dangers to be found in the woods leading up to the beast’s castle. It’s dark and full of ravenous wolves, which might be scary for very little kids. Belle’s father (Kevin Kline) is in peril several times. The arrogant Gaston (Luke Evans) whips the villagers into a frenzy, leading them in a mob to kill the east. And of course, because this is a Disney movie, there are dead parents. But for the most part, your kids will probably love this, and they’ll leave the theater singing. Fine for kids around 6 and older.


NEW ON DVD

 

Passengers (2016) 31%

Rating: PG-13, for sexuality, nudity, and action/peril.

Critics mostly savaged this sci-fi romance when it came out last year, and I’m not entirely sure why. It works, for a while at least. And it would probably be OK for your kids if they’re around 10 and older. I brought my 7-year-old son with me when it screened, and some of it was probably too grown-up for him. “It was kind of boring,” he said. And there are some long, quiet stretches of loneliness. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence star as the only two people awake aboard a spaceship headed for a colony on a distant planet. Thousands of other passengers are still in a 120-year state of hibernation. How will they survive? It’s a cool concept with some twists — and some problematic ethics. Director Morten Tyldum’s film is glossy and clever as it depicts life on the ship. It has some amusing elements, mainly courtesy of Michael Sheen as an android bartender. But it turns screechy and silly in the third act when it morphs into an over-the-top sci-fi thriller. There’s some language scattered throughout, as well as the suggestion that Pratt and Lawrence’s characters have sex. We see them lead up to the act, featuring some nudity from behind, as well as the requisite basking in the afterglow. We also see Pratt naked from behind, both in the shower and wandering around the ship. And the two characters find themselves in major peril at the film’s fiery climax.


Collateral Beauty (2016) 14%

Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements and brief strong language.

This was one of the stranger movies to come out last year – and one of the biggest misfires. Still, it’s sort of worth seeing, just to gawk at how spectacularly wrong it all goes. Collateral Beauty may look like a feel-good, life-affirming drama, but it’s actually much more complicated than that. Will Smith stars as a former hotshot ad executive who’s now reeling from a major family tragedy. His business partners – played by Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, and Michael Pena – scheme to make him look crazy so they can sell the agency, which is floundering in his absence. Keira Knightley, Jacob Latimore, and Helen Mirren play the struggling actors who manipulate him by portraying the notions of Love, Time, and Death, respectively. Along the way, all the characters learn to deal with their own problems. What are the odds? Director David Frankel’s film deals with some very mature themes of loss and grief. There’s also quite a bit of language throughout, including the one F-bomb you get with a PG-13 rating. But this film is just so bizarre and hard to follow, your kids will probably be thoroughly confused. Then again, so will you.

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