Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: How Family-Friendly Are Ride Along 2 and Norm of the North?

by | January 15, 2016 | Comments

This week, Christy offers details on an Ice Cube-Kevin Hart buddy-cop comedy sequel and a poorly received animated film from a fledgling studio, plus a couple of choices on DVD. Read on for the list.


NEW IN THEATERS

 

Ride Along 2 (2016) 13%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence, sexual content, language and some drug material.

Ride Along was a surprise hit in 2014. So: surprise! Now we have a sequel, which is essentially the same movie all over again. Kevin Hart and Ice Cube reprise their mismatched buddy-cop roles — Hart chatters, Cube glowers — only this time, Hart’s character actually is a probationary police officer, and not just a wannabe. Still, he manages to mess things up with his unstoppable enthusiasm and half-baked notions of detective work. He follows his soon-to-be brother-in-law from Atlanta to Miami to stop a villainous shipping magnate (Benjamin Bratt) from doing something villainous. Shootouts, explosions and copious amounts of South Beach booty shaking inevitably occur. There’s also some language and sexually suggestive material. If you must see this, it’s probably OK for mature tweens to watch, too.


Norm of the North (2016) 9%

Rating: PG, for mild rude humor and action.

I actually didn’t see this film. The only screening of it took place at the exact same time as the only screening of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The folks behind this animated family movie knew of the scheduling conflict and made no other options available. Clearly, they weren’t terribly interested in having critics see it, and the few who did see it have few kind words: It’s hovering above the ground in the single digits on the Tomatometer. Anyway, it’s about a chatty, wacky polar bear (voiced by Rob Schneider) who travels to New York City to stop a real estate developer from building luxury condos near his Arctic home. Along for the ride is a trio of adorable, Minion-esque lemmings. Madcap fish-out-of-water antics and fart jokes ensue. This is probably fine (and best-suited, really) for the young kids in your house. But based on the trailers alone, it looks like you’ll be miserable.

 


NEW ON DVD

 

Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) 55%

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

The sequel to the 2012 animated hit Hotel Transylvania is fine for viewers of all ages (and I actually liked it better than the original). This time, Dracula (voiced once again by Adam Sandler) tries to coax 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 first film, but it also features more characters and more adventures. The monsters are so cute and goofy, though, 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 wasn’t quite 6 when he saw it.


The Martian (2015) 91%

Rating: PG-13, for some strong language, injury images and brief nudity.

One of the biggest box-office smashes of last year is now out on DVD. Hopefully, you saw it in the theater — on the biggest screen you could find — because Ridley Scott’s space odyssey is just dazzling. If not, hopefully you’ve got a giant TV at home on which to enjoy the spectacular visuals. Matt Damon just earned a best-actor Oscar nomination this week for playing an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars when his fellow crewmembers presume he’s dead after a powerful storm. But because he’s also a botanist, he’s equipped with the know-how to make the most of his long, lonely stay. His time on Mars is fraught with peril (and some truly gnarly bloody moments). He also only has himself to talk to, which understandably includes some language. But Scott’s film is thrilling — beautifully made, suspenseful and surprisingly funny. And it features some inspired work from a strong supporting cast, including Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain and Donald Glover. If you’ve got older kids and tweens in your house with a taste for adventure and an interest in science, this is an excellent choice.

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