Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and much more

We give you what you need to know about the family-friendliness of this week's new releases.

by | October 10, 2014 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day


Rating: PG, for rude humor including some reckless behavior and language.

This family-friendly Disney comedy uses the popular Judith Viorst children’s book mainly as a springboard. It follows the misadventures of a family in which one of the kids, Alexander (Ed Oxenbould), is having an atrocious day. While blowing out a birthday candle, he wishes that his happy, thriving parents and siblings could understand his misery and inadvertently curses them in the process. Madcap hilarity ensues, including a wrecked minivan, a Peter Pan performance that’s tainted by too much cough syrup and a baby consuming an entire green marker. There’s nothing even vaguely offensive here. Even when the male-stripper group the Thunder From Down Under shows up — don’t ask — they do a clean version of their routine. A solid choice for the whole family — even parents, who will find it surprisingly tolerable thanks in part to the likable presence of Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner as Alexander’s parents.

St. Vincent


Rating: PG-13, for mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language.

Bill Murray is back in reliable curmudgeon mode as Vincent, a misanthropic alcoholic living in a shabby Brooklyn home. He finds his comfortable, anti-social routine shattered when a single mom (Melissa McCarthy) and her shy, bullied son (Jaeden Lieberher) move in next door and Vincent ends up serving as de factor babysitter. Despite its ultimate feel-good themes, there’s some mature stuff here. Vincent has an ongoing relationship with a pregnant, Russian stripper (Naomi Watts) and he takes the kid to a dive bar and the racetrack. (Besides his drinking problem, he also has a gambling problem as well as a smoking problem.) There’s also a subplot involving an elderly woman who’s in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. And as the kid gains confidence, he punches out one of the classmates who had tormented him. This is probably suitable for sophisticated tweens and older.

One Chance


Rating: PG-13, for some language and sexual material.

This inspiring film is based on the true story of Paul Potts, a portly cell-phone salesman from working-class Wales who became an unlikely superstar singing opera to win the first season of Britain’s Got Talent. It’s pure formula, but James Corden is so irresistibly charming as Potts that you may as well give in. There are a few sexual references that will probably go over a lot of younger viewers’ heads. It’s suggested that Potts loses his virginity on his wedding night, but all we see is a little bit of chaste kissing. Also, he gets bullied as a kid by the mean boys who scoff at his sophisticated musical tastes. This is a nice story, solidly and efficiently told, and fine for tweens and older.

New On DVD:

Million Dollar Arm


Rating: PG, for mild language and suggestive content.

Anyone who’s ever seen a feel-good Disney sports movie — which truly is its own genre by now — knows what they’re getting here. It’s an extremely wholesome film that’s fine for the whole family. Jon Hamm stars as agent J.B. Bernstein, who brings a couple of kids from India to the United States who’ve never played baseball in hopes of turning them into major-league pitchers. Nothing offensive or shocking happens here. The guys attend a lavish party where there’s poolside drinking with bikini-clad beauties, and one character who’d never tasted alcohol before ends up downing too much punch with messy consequences. (See? A teaching moment.) There’s also the suggestion that Hamm’s character spends the night with the woman who’s renting out his guesthouse, played by Lake Bell, but we don’t see anything beyond some innocent kissing.

Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow


Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and brief suggestive material.

When it came out in theaters, this Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller was called Edge of Tomorrow. Now it’s going by the poster tagline Live Die Repeat. Either way, this is an insanely violent PG-13 movie, but barely any blood results from the copious amounts of violence and death, so there you have it. Cruise’s character gets shot in the head over and over again, or monsters devour him, or a truck hits him. However it happens, he has to die repeatedly in order to reset his day and come back with more knowledge and slight tweaks to his actions each time. Think of it as a gruesome version of Groundhog Day. In the near future, creatures resembling giant, evil calamari have ravaged Earth. They’re fast-moving, spinning, climbing, flying — they’re totally frightening. Cruise, as a reluctant Army major, and Emily Blunt, as a famously fierce warrior, must work together to control time and stop the assault. Among the elements of the fight is a futuristic storming of the beach at Normandy featuring massive gunfire, exploding aircraft and general mayhem. Director Doug Liman’s film is extremely clever but definitely not suitable for anyone younger than their teens.

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