Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: How Family-Friendly Are In the Heart of the Sea and Boy and the World?

by | December 11, 2015 | Comments

This week, Christy gives us the lowdown on Ron Howard’s take on the seagoing adventure that inspired Moby Dick and a beautifully animated film from Brazil, plus Marvel’s most recent offering and an animated spinoff on DVD. Read on for details.



In the Heart of the Sea (2015) 43%

Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of action and peril, brief, startling violence and thematic material.

Ron Howard’s film explores the true story that inspired the classic Moby Dick, about a monstrous whale that vexed a ship full of fishermen and coaxed them around the globe in the early 1820s. Chris Hemsworth stars as the strapping first mate, who tries to provide leadership and courage as the stranded crew’s situation grows bleaker in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The whale itself – a marvel of computer-generated imagery – probably will seem more awesome than fearsome to younger viewers. It is truly a spectacle to behold, and the main reason to see the film. But gnarly stuff goes down as the men grow more desperate at sea, including cannibalism and suicide. Also, their general appearance – emaciated, disheveled – might be disturbing. OK for mature tweens and older.

Boy and the World (2013) 93%

Rating: Unrated.

This is a beautiful, strange and wondrous animated film from Brazilian writer-director Ale Abreu. It tells the story of a boy who dares to wander from his home in the country to the big city in search of his father, who has traveled there seeking work. As he ventures farther from his family’s farm and closer to the teeming metropolitan center, the boy encounters overworked field hands, cramped favelas, miserable commuters and the general destruction industrialization can cause. As a cautionary tale, Boy and the World isn’t saying much that’s new (and isn’t saying it in a way that’s terribly subtle). But as an artistic exercise, the film is dazzling, full of vibrant hues and rich textures. It looks like a slightly more sophisticated version of children’s color-pencil drawings come to life, and its aesthetic is constantly evolving and surprising. I watched the film with my 6-year-old son, who asked lots of questions because there’s no dialogue and many of the characters essentially look the same. But he also loved the film’s colorful, playful vibe and the infectious, samba-infused score. Fine for all ages.



Minions (2015) 56%

Rating: PG, for action and rude humor.

Just in time for the holidays, Minions is out on DVD for the people in your family who loved this movie and made it a smash hit this summer (i.e. your kids). The little, yellow, pill-shaped creatures were always the best parts of the Despicable Me movies anyway. This 3-D animated comedy provides their origin story, explaining where the Minions came from and how they’ve had a singular purpose for centuries: find the most evil villain they can, and then do that person’s bidding. The central adventure here finds three brave Minions — Kevin, Stuart and Bob — venturing from the pack into the vast unknown to find their latest and greatest big boss. At a bad-guy convention, they discover the first female super villain, Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock), who seeks their help in stealing Queen Elizabeth’s crown. As you might expect from these irrepressible imps, a lot of the humor here is of the silly and slapsticky variety. At one point, the Minions work for Dracula, but he’s more of a goofy figure than a scary one. A scene in a dungeon full of potentially deadly contraptions ends up being played for laughs. And Scarlet herself is cartoonish in every way imaginable, from her teased-up coif to her shrieky demeanor to her sleek, high-tech vehicles. This is totally fine for everyone (and probably a good way to occupy your kids while you’re wrapping their other gifts).

Ant-Man (2015) 83%

Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi action violence.

For once, the fate of the world is not at stake in a movie based on a Marvel Comics superhero. Paul Rudd’s character becomes a tiny crime fighter — ant-sized, to be exact. Rudd’s Scott Lang was a criminal himself, but now is teaming up with the professor (Michael Douglas) who created this shrinking particle (and a snazzy suit to go with it) to protect the technology from falling into the wrong hands. It’s a much lighter and breezier movie than most we’ve seen recently from the Marvel Cinematic Universe but there are still several thrilling and intense moments, and a few scary ones. Ant-Man battles a bad guy who also can diminish in size. A few people and animals who become the unwitting subjects of the shrinking experiments wind up being zapped into blobs of goo. And a little girl finds herself in very real and intimate peril. There’s also some language, some physical fighting and a brief moment of kissing. Fine for tweens and up.