Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: How Family-Friendly Are Jem and the Holograms and The Last Witch Hunter?

by | October 23, 2015 | Comments

This week, Christy talks about the big screen adaptation of a popular 1980s cartoon and a fantasy action/adventure starring Vin Diesel. Then, on video, she also tells us whether or not three of this week’s new releases are appropriate for the little ones. Read on for details.



Jem and the Holograms (2015) 22%

Rating: PG, for thematic material including reckless behavior, brief suggestive content and some language.

This is a live-action movie based on the 1980s cartoon series about the adventures of an all-girl rock band. Shy singer-songwriter Jerrica (Aubrey Peeples) becomes a viral Internet sensation when her younger sister, Kimber (Stefanie Scott), posts a video of her performing online. She gets whisked away to Los Angeles for a record deal but insists on bringing not just Kimber but also her two foster sisters. But while she’s there, she also must follow a series of clues her late father left behind for her in the form of hologram images stored inside a robot. There’s a lot going on here – and the movie is all of two hours long – so really little kids might be lost. But if you’ve got a girl in your house between the ages of 8 and 12, they will love this. There’s a bit of minor language and a few scenes of nighttime trespassing. The band’s hunky handler (Ryan Guzman) emerges from the shower in nothing but a towel (but that’s for the moms in the audience). Fine for young tweens and up.

The Last Witch Hunter (2015) 18%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images.

It’s boring and confusing and grim and the effects look murky and cheesy. Having said that, if you can figure out what’s going on here, many of the images are super-scary. Vin Diesel stars as a man who’s been cursed with immortality, and who’s been hunting witches for the past 800 years. There’s been a truce between humans and the witches who exist among us, but the most evil being of them all, the Queen Witch, has plans to return and unleash the Black Death upon the planet in a fit of revenge. There is the suggestion that some characters die – or at least they appear to die. There’s some language. But more potentially disturbing is the imagery of the icky witch covered in gooey, oozing glop who unleashes torrents of insects upon New York City. This movie is terrible. But if your kids insist on seeing it, it’s probably OK for young teens and up. I’d steer them toward something else, though.



Jurassic World (2015) 71%

Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.

This is an extremely violent PG-13 movie. It’s actually kind of amazing that it got a PG-13 rating — it’s right there on the edge of the most you can get away with before earning an R. In keeping with other movies in the Jurassic Park series, people get straight-up eaten here. Or trampled. Or torn to pieces. There’s no other way to phrase it — it’s a movie about dinosaurs run amok at a (supposedly) family-friendly theme park. Thousands flee in terror as dinosaurs stomp and roar and tear their way through the scenery and eateries. The biggest of them all is the genetically engineered Indominus Rex, which stands 50 feet high and contains strands of DNA from various other creatures, making it unstoppable. A couple of kids are in particular danger: A teenager and his younger brother, visiting their aunt (Bryce Dallas Howard), who’s a top executive at Jurassic World. Luckily, a tough-guy velociraptor trainer (Chris Pratt) is there to save the day. It’s the biggest hit of the year and No. 3 all-time at the box office, but I still feel like it’s best suited for viewers around 13 and up.

Paper Towns (2015) 58%

Rating: PG-13, for some language, drinking, sexuality and partial nudity – all involving teens.

A sweetly geeky high school senior (Nat Wolff) goes on an all-night adventure with his neighbor from across the street (Cara Delevingne), his one-time, childhood pal who’s now the rebellious, cool girl. The next morning, she has disappeared mysteriously, inspiring him and his two best friends to go on a hunt to find her. Paper Towns is based on the novel by John Green, who also wrote The Fault in Our Stars, so the young-adult crowd probably knows what’s in store. There’s some teen-movie partying, including beer bongs, keg stands and subsequent vomiting. A couple of characters engage in a hot-and-heavy make-out session, and a couple of others ponder the prospect of losing their virginity to each other on prom night. And there’s a bit of language. But this is totally fine for tweens and older. It’s a movie that I really liked — but I would have loved it if I’d seen it at age 13.

Z for Zachariah (2015) 78%

Rating: PG-13, for a scene of sexuality, partial nudity and brief strong language.

This would be a tough sit for most young viewers with its ambiguous premise and languid pacing, but if you have tweens in your family with a taste for bleak, post-apocalyptic dramas, this may work for you. Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine star as the only survivors for miles around of some sort of nuclear catastrophe. They share a farmhouse nestled in a valley somewhere in the rural South, and a creeping tension grows between them. Director Craig Zobel’s beautifully shot film features some disturbing images of disease and distress as well as mature themes of death and the necessary steps to maintain humanity. The three characters get drunk and frisky one night; there’s also a bit of nudity and the implication that a couple of the characters have had sex. We won’t spoil it by telling you which ones, though.