Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: How Family-Friendly Are Spectre, The Peanuts Movie, and Brooklyn?

by | November 5, 2015 | Comments

This week, Christy breaks down the latest entry in the James Bond franchise, a return to an animated classic, and a well-received indie drama. Also, on DVD, she takes another look at an excellent Pixar film and Chris Evans’ directorial debut. Read on for details.



Spectre (2015) 63%

Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, sensuality and language.

The 24th James Bond film (and the fourth starring Daniel Craig) features all the international intrigue and villainy you’ve come to expect. Car chases, explosions, shootings (including a suicide), mid-air helicopter brawls and a truly punishing fistfight aboard a train – it’s all here, and more. One guy gets his eyes gouged out before having his neck snapped. The plot this time, in case you’re curious: Bond must uncover who’s behind a shadowy organization known as Spectre, a syndicate of bad guys hell-bent on world domination. There’s also an intertwined plot involving the possibility of dismantling the double-0 program in favor of more high-tech surveillance tactics. It’s extremely violent, of course. And Bond gets to bed a couple of gorgeous women, of course. But it’s probably OK for mature tweens and older, especially if they’ve ever seen any of the previous Bond pictures.

The Peanuts Movie (2015) 87%

Rating: G.

Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang are back, this time in 3-D animation. But despite the high-tech approach, the film itself couldn’t be sweeter or truer to the simplicity of creator Charles M. Schulz’s decades-old vision. This isn’t post-modern, snarky Peanuts. The movie is essentially a series of familiar vignettes connected by a couple of intertwined through-lines: Charlie Brown tries to work up the nerve to talk to the mythological Little Red-Haired Girl while Snoopy, in his rich fantasy life as the World War I Flying Ace, tries to woo a comely female pilot. He also battles his nemesis, the Red Baron, but it’s never really violent. The characters do exactly what you expect they’ll do, every single time; ideas, images, plot points and even bits of dialogue have been lifted from previous Peanuts incarnations. It’s all very safe and reassuring as it taps into adults’ sense of nostalgia while reaching out to a new generation. Totally suitable for all ages, and the ideal first movie for the youngest kids in your family.

Brooklyn (2015) 97%

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

A truly beautiful – and beautifully acted – film about a young, Irish immigrant coming into her own in Brooklyn in the early 1950s. Saoirse Ronan is absolutely radiant as the determined Eilis, who starts out shy and homesick but evolves into a young woman of great poise and confidence as she finds her place in a new land. Eilis and her longtime boyfriend (a charismatic Emory Cohen) kiss quite a bit, and there’s the implication that they have sex. There’s also a bit of language. But this is a great film for tweens to see, especially the girls in your house. It’s all about figuring out who you are and being true to yourself under difficult and emotionally charged circumstances.




Inside Out (2015) 98%

Rating: PG, for mild thematic elements and some action.

Pixar Animation’s summer smash hit is beautiful and heartbreaking, lively and profound. And, like the absolute best Pixar movies, it will move every member of your family on a different level. An 11-year-old girl named Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) reluctantly moves with her parents from Minneapolis to San Francisco. We see the toll this massive shift takes on her through the various character traits interacting in her head: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). It’s energetic and colorful and very, very funny, often in physical and slapsticky ways. (My then-5-year-old son’s favorite part was when the hotheaded Anger set Fear’s butt on fire.) Kids of all ages will be completely enthralled and entertained. But Inside Out works even better for the adults in the audience for the thoughtful, complex ways it addresses the nature of our memories and the crucial role they play in shaping our personalities and building lifelong bonds. Director and co-writer Pete Docter’s film is smart and ambitious and a must-see. And oh yes, it will make you cry at least a couple of times. It places some of its characters in brief peril, but otherwise it’s totally suitable for all ages.

Before We Go (2015) 27%

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

Chris Evans strays far from the blockbuster Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Captain America character that made him a superstar to direct and co-star in this intimate, indie romance. Evans and Alice Eve play strangers who meet in the middle of the night at Grand Central Terminal and end up walking and talking until dawn throughout New York City. Along the way, they discuss their respective love lives, career choices, dreams and regrets. There’s some mature talk here about marriage and infidelity and some language. Evans’ character also gets punched in the face when he tries to retrieve Eve’s stolen Prada bag. Overall, though, it’s pretty harmless but also pretty dull. Fine for tweens and older.

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