Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: How Family-Friendly Are The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 and Secret in Their Eyes?

by | November 20, 2015 | Comments

This week, Christy breaks down the much-anticipated final chapter of the Hunger Games series, a star-studded remake of an Oscar-winning Argentinean thriller, and a coming-of-age drama from Turkey, as well as Guy Ritchie’s zippy spy movie on DVD. Read on for details.



The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015) 70%

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

It’s the final movie in the Hunger Games series — no, really, it is. So if you’ve seen any of the three previous films — or any movie within the post-apocalyptic, dystopian-future Young Adult genre — you know what’s in store for you. The second half of the Mockingjay finale features massive amounts of carnage and destruction, as well as the constant threat of all-out war. Additionally, diabolical President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his gamesmakers have scattered deadly obstacles — or pods — throughout Panem’s capitol to keep Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and her fellow rebels from storming in and killing him. These are devastating, ranging from a giant, ferocious wave of black ooze to an army of ravenous, reptilian lizard mutts in the sewers. (The latter scene had me curled up in a ball, watching through splayed fingers.) There’s also a disturbing sequence involving the death of many young children. This is just extremely violent for a PG-13 movie. I’d say it’s OK for mature, older tweens and up — but if your kids are fans of the book, they know what’s in the movie, and they’ll probably want to see it all unfold for themselves.

Secret in Their Eyes (2015) 39%

Rating: PG-13, for thematic material involving disturbing violent content, language and some sexual references.

Julia Roberts, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nicole Kidman star in an English-language remake of Argentina’s El secreto de sus ojos, which won the Academy Award for best foreign-language film in 2010. It follows a group of investigators and close friends still reeling from the brutal rape and murder 13 years earlier of Roberts’ character’s daughter, and it jumps back and forth in time as it reveals clues and twists. We see the young woman’s body — soaked in bleach and tossed in a Dumpster — as well as her mother’s anguish at the discovery. We also see montages of partially obscured images from the attack itself. There’s some disturbing imagery here as well as some fatal shootings. I’d say this is probably appropriate for mature young teens and older.

Mustang (2015) 97%

Rating: PG-13, for mature thematic material, sexual content and a rude gesture.

A great choice for the older girls in your house, the debut film from Turkish-French director Deniz Gamze Erguven provides an intimate look at five sisters who become imprisoned in their own home. A neighbor in their small, coastal village sees them romping on the shores of the Black Sea on the last day of school and misinterprets their behavior as being inappropriately sexual. Embarrassed and enraged, their grandmother and uncle take away their belongings, lock them inside and make plans to marry them off, one by one. You could think of it as a Turkish version of Sofia Coppola’s haunting 1999 debut The Virgin Suicides, but Mustang has its own sense of melancholy as well as a rebellious spirit. There’s some frank talk in here about virginity and ensuring that the girls have maintained theirs — or not, on their wedding night, once the older sisters enter into their arranged marriages. And at one point, one of the sisters playfully flips the bird to another at the dinner table. But it’s also about young women who are loyal and brave as they assert their identities in the face of patriarchal oppression. Fine for tweens and up (who don’t mind reading subtitles).



The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015) 67%

Rating: PG-13, for action violence, some suggestive content, and partial nudity.

Guy Ritchie’s big-screen version of the 1960s TV spy series is a great example of what the British director does so well through his signature, kinetic style. It’s slick and sexy, fizzy and funny. But it can also be quite violent — although less so than his best films, the R-rated Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and RocknRolla. You don’t need to know a thing about the television show (I certainly didn’t) to have a good time here. Henry Cavill stars as a suave, American CIA agent sent on a mission to East Berlin during the Cold War to rescue a beautiful mechanic (Alicia Vikander) whose estranged father is a world-renowned rocket scientist working on a nuclear bomb. Also on the hunt for her is a Russian KGB agent (Armie Hammer), who’s as highly skilled as Cavill’s character but burdened with a beast of a temper. Multiple shootouts, car chases and fistfights ensue, including one in a men’s bathroom between the two spies. Characters are fatally shot but there’s no blood. There’s also a bit of torture, with one supporting character dying in spectacularly grisly fashion — but we see it from a distance, so there’s sort of a detachment to how disturbing it is, and it’s played for laughs. If sex is what you’re worried about, Cavill’s character effortlessly beds the hotel’s front desk clerk, whom we see afterward from behind in nothing but a pair of lacy panties. And there’s a playfully flirty fight between Hammer and a drunk Vikander that results in a trashed hotel room. This is probably OK for tweens and older.


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