Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: How Family-Friendly Are Hotel Transylvania 2, The Intern, and A Brave Heart?

by | September 25, 2015 | Comments

This week, Christy talks about an animated sequel, the latest Nancy Meyers film, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, and an inspiring documentary. Plus, she also covers a recent sequel to a hit musical movie you might have heard of, new on DVD. Read on for details.



Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) 57%

Rating: PG, for some scary images, action and rude humor.

The sequel to the 2012 animated hit Hotel Transylvania finds Dracula (voiced once again by Adam Sandler) coaxing out the latent vampire tendencies in his sweet, 4-year-old grandson, Dennis, the only child of his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), and her human husband, Jonathan (Andy Samberg). He also has a hotel to run with the help of his monster friends (Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, Keegan-Michael Key, David Spade). It’s got the same snappy pacing, silly sight gags and clever pop culture references as the original, only now it also features more characters and more adventures. The monsters are so cute and goofy, they won’t be the slightest bit frightening to your children. But: There’s a vampire character who enters toward the end – the right-hand man of Drac’s dad, Vlad (Mel Brooks) — who is scarier than the rest and puts some of the little-kid characters in danger. That’s the only part of the movie that bothered my son, who’s almost 6. Otherwise, this is fine for viewers of all ages.

The Intern (2015) 59%

Rating: PG-13, for some suggestive content and brief strong language.

Robert De Niro stars as Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old widower and retiree who takes an internship at a burgeoning fashion website to pass the time. He’s assigned to work with the site’s founder, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), an impatient, workaholic wife and mom. Magically, they make each other’s lives better – and they do it all in great clothes within impeccably decorated homes and offices. (This is a Nancy Meyers movie, after all.) There’s a bit of language here and a mature subplot involving Jules’ husband (Anders Holm). Otherwise, this movie is fine for tweens and up –as long as you explain to them that nobody actually lives this way in Brooklyn.

A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story (2015) 93%

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

Lizzie Velasquez, a young woman from Austin, Texas, was born with a rare syndrome that left her with striking facial features and an inability to gain weight. After suffering harsh attacks online, she fought back by launching her own YouTube channel to spread positivity. Now, at 26, she’s an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker and anti-bullying activist. Director Sara Hirsh Bordo’s documentary rarely digs below the surface to reveal how she really feels about the cruelty she’s endured or her health concerns. But Velasquez is so radiantly sweet and funny – and her message of kindness is so pure – she’s hard to resist. There’s a bit of strong language here, and the online comments directed at Velasquez’s appearance can be startling. But this is a great film for young people to see to open their eyes to the importance of being generous toward others, and to understand the damage bullying can cause.



Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) 65%

Rating: PG-13, for innuendo and language.

The sequel to the 2012 surprise smash Pitch Perfect finds the college a cappella group the Barden Bellas fighting to maintain their national championship status after an on-stage wardrobe malfunction in front of President Obama and the first lady. (We don’t actually see the embarrassing costume split Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy suffers, but other characters discuss it in vivid detail.) As in the first film, John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks (who also directs this time) provide a running commentary on the various singing competitions, which includes plenty of satirically inappropriate racist and sexist remarks. There is the implication that some characters have had sex, some heavy-duty (but broadly comic) make-out sessions as well as some language and general mean-girl trash talk. Still, Pitch Perfect 2, like its extremely similar predecessor, ultimately is about female solidarity and finding your own voice. Fine for tweens and older.