Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: Divergent and Muppets Most Wanted, Plus Frozen and Saving Mr. Banks

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

by | March 21, 2014 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:

Divergent

41%

Rating: PG-13, for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality.

The movie version of Veronica Roth’s young adult bestseller takes place in a rigidly structured dystopian future, so naturally this means teens are going to have to battle each other for survival. It’s a crucial part of the formula. For the tweens and older who’ve read the book, the film adaptation is probably fine. They (and you) know what to expect. Shailene Woodley stars as Beatrice, or Tris, who must decide which of society’s five factions is the best for her. Once she joins the Dauntless, known for their bravery, she learns to fight, shoot, throw knives and jump from trains. But she also must defend herself from her fellow initiates, who are trying to undermine her, and face her deepest fears within elaborate simulations. A sizable body count builds up during the film’s big action sequences toward the end, but because this is PG-13, there’s very little blood.

Muppets Most Wanted

80%

Rating: PG, for some mild action.

The Muppets are back in yet another high-energy, star-studded, song-and-dance extravaganza. This time, they’re performing in major cities throughout Europe with an internationally known jewel thief, a frog named Constantine, pretending to be Kermit at the helm. There’s nothing even remotely inappropriate here. Miss Piggy is in slight danger, briefly, and the rest of the Muppets have to put themselves in peril to save her. And much of the action takes place inside a Siberian gulag (where a hilarious Tina Fey is the warden) but even that is depicted so cartoonishly, it’s never frightening. A Monsters University short precedes the feature, which is pretty darn delightful, as well.

New On DVD:

Frozen

90%

Rating: PG, for some action and mild rude humor.

You probably already have “Let It Go” playing repeatedly in your head like a psychotic episode. Now you can own Frozen on DVD and sear the song into your brain permanently. The Oscar-winning Disney animated musical has become a pop-culture phenomenon, and understandably so. It’s extremely entertaining for the whole family, especially if you have little girls in your house. Broadway veteran Idina Menzel lends her voice to the character of Elsa, a newly crowned queen who loses control and turns her idyllic kingdom to ice. Her younger sister (Kristen Bell), Princess Anna, goes on a journey with some new friends to retrieve Elsa from her self-imposed, mountaintop exile. The only vaguely scary element here is the giant snow monster Elsa creates to protect her fortress from intruders, but it’s on screen briefly and might frighten only the youngest viewers.

Saving Mr. Banks

79%

Rating: Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements including some unsettling images.

A shamelessly sentimental retelling of how charismatic Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) persuaded persnickety Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to let him turn her beloved children’s book into a movie musical. It’s not entirely accurate from a historical perspective, but it’s certainly suitable and sufficiently cheery fare, full of upbeat tunes and cathartic tears. The only reason I can imagine for the PG-13 rating is that Saving Mr. Banks includes some flashbacks to Travers’ childhood with a father (Colin Farrell) whose alcoholism destroyed him. Showing your kids the actual Mary Poppins movie might be a better call.

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