This week, Christy takes a look at the latest YA novel adaptation and a horror movie centered around a creepy doll, plus a bubbly music movie, a harrowing survival story, and a sweet comedy on DVD. Read on for the list.
NEW IN THEATERS
Rating: PG-13, for violence and destruction, some sci-fi thematic elements, language and brief teen partying.
This is yet another movie based on yet another Young Adult novel. But the way it trots out every trope of the genre, it plays like a Wayans-brothers spoof. There’s been an apocalypse (this time aliens are to blame). There’s a plucky teenage girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) who dares to think for herself and fight back. There are two hunky young men (Nick Robinson and Alex Roe) who are competing for her affections. There are untrustworthy adults played by serious actors (Liev Schreiber and Maria Bello). There are kids being trained as soldiers. And eventually there’s a mad dash through maze-like hallways. It’s all there. Also because it’s possibly the end of the world, there’s general panic, violence, death and destruction. Kids get sent into battle and must pick off their enemies in hails of gunfire (and some of them get shot, as well). There’s also some language including one F-bomb and a kegger during happier times at the film’s start. This may not be very good but it is very intense, and probably best suited for viewers around 13 and older.
Rating: PG-13, for violence and terror, and for some thematic material.
A young American woman finds that the 8-year-old boy she’s been hired to nanny at an imposing estate in the English countryside is actually a china doll, whom his parents treat like a living, breathing child. It should be a super-creepy premise but, in execution, The Boy is too silly to take seriously — yet not knowingly over-the-top enough to serve as a guilty pleasure. Lauren Cohan of The Walking Dead stars as the nanny, who’s skeptical about the toy until her clothes start going missing and she hears a child’s giggling and sobs in the hallways. There’s some potentially unsettling stuff here in terms of what happened to the couple’s actual 8-year-old son, and the climactic showdown is violent and bloody. Probably OK for viewers around 12 or 13 and up.
NEW ON DVD
Rating: PG, for thematic material including reckless behavior, brief suggestive content and some language.
If you’ve got a girl in your house between the ages of 8 and 12, they will love this. Tweens and older are the perfect age for this 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. As you might have figured out, there’s a lot going on here — and the movie is all of two hours long — so really little kids might be lost. There’s also a bit of minor language and a few scenes of nighttime trespassing. And at one point, the band’s hunky handler (Ryan Guzman) emerges from the shower in nothing but a towel — but that’s for the moms’ enjoyment.
Rating: PG-13, for intense peril and disturbing images.
The moral of the story is: Don’t climb Mt. Everest. You won’t make it to the top. And if you do, you probably won’t make it back down. And even if you do make it back down, you’ll probably have frostbite. The visuals are spectacular, though; theatrically, it was available in IMAX 3-D, and was definitely worth the extra cost. An all-star cast including Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Jake Gyllenhaal and Josh Brolin brave the elements in this harrowing recreation of a real-life, ill-fated trek up the mountain in 1996. Keira Knightley and Robin Wright are among the women waiting and worrying for them back home. The characters struggle and suffer in disturbing ways, and not everyone makes it out alive. Amid the striking imagery, director Baltasar Kormakur also shows us dead, frozen bodies in the snow. My son (who was almost 6 at the time) was curious about Everest, though, so I brought him with me to a screening and he did fine. This should be suitable for older kids and up.
Rating: PG-13, for some suggestive content and brief strong language.
This week, Robert De Niro is in theaters as Dirty Grandpa. But last year, he played a much sweeter guy: Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old widower and retiree who takes an internship at a burgeoning fashion website to feel useful again. 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 older. You’ll just have to explain to them that nobody actually lives this way in Brooklyn.