Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: Jack Reacher, The Guilt Trip, and Monsters, Inc. 3D

We give you what you need to know about the family-friendliness of this week's new releases.

by | December 20, 2012 | Comments


Since it’s the holiday season, there’s a good chance you’ll be watching movies with family members young and old. Fortunately, you’ve got plenty to choose from, including an action thriller (Jack Reacher), a road-trip comedy (The Guilt Trip), an animated classic (Monsters, Inc. 3D), and loads of new DVDs. Read on to find out what’s appropriate for the whole family.

In Theaters This Week:

Jack Reacher


What’s it about? Tom Cruise stars as the title character, a former Army M.P. who is called upon to investigate a mass shooting and uncovers a web of intrigue.

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG-13 for “for violence, language and some drug material.” Given that it’s a story about a sniper, Jack Reacher might be a tough sell to some parents after the recent shooting in Newtown, but it’s probably safe for teens.

Is it any good? Critics say that while Jack Reacher doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it’s an above-average crime thriller with a charismatic performance from Cruise.

The Guilt Trip


What’s it about? Seth Rogen stars as an inventor who plans to drive cross-country to pitch his newest product. He invites his overbearing mom (Barbra Streisand) along in an attempt to fix her up with an old boyfriend in San Francisco.

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG-13 for “language and some risqué material.” It’s probably safe for teens.

Is it any good? Critics say The Guilt Trip is undeniably sweet, and the leads are in fine form, but there are absolutely no surprises to be found in the script.

Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D


What’s it about? Everyone’s favorite acrobatic Canadians bring their patented brand of entertainment to the big screen with help from producer James Cameron and director Andrew Adamson.

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG for “some dramatic images and mild sensuality.” Put it another way: this ain’t Zumanity.

Is it any good? Critics say Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away barely contains a plot, but its images are so eye-popping that you probably won’t care.

Monsters, Inc. 3D


What’s it about? Sully (John Goodman), who’s furry and blue, and Mike (Billy Crystal), who’s a giant eyeball in a green body, are exiled from the land of monsters to the real world after a little girl proves impervious to their ability to frighten.

Who’s it for? It’s rated G. It practically defines the term “family entertainment.”

Is it any good? With great characters, a superb voice cast, and an endearing story, Monsters, Inc. is a Pixar classic.

New On DVD:

Pitch Perfect


What’s it about? Anna Kendrick stars as a new kid on campus who goes looking for a new clique and finds one in the form of the school’s a cappella ensemble. Can our heroine’s hip taste in tunes shake up the group’s staid arrangements — and make it a contender at the big singing competition?

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG-13 for “sexual material, language, and drug references,” though it’s almost certainly safe for young teens.

Is it any good? Despite the deluge of all-singing, all-dancing movies and TV shows, Pitch Perfect is probably worth your time. The cast is excellent, the songs are good, and it’s Certified Fresh.

Total Recall


What’s it about? Suffering from disturbing dreams, Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) decides to visit Rekall, a company that implants memories of an exciting vacation. When the procedure goes awry, however, Quaid becomes the target of a manhunt.

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity, and language.” We can safely say the original contains way more stuff that’s inappropriate for teens.

Is it any good? Critics say it’s visually impressive, but it swaps out the existential anxiety and eccentric panache of Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 film for an overabundance of action set-pieces.

Premium Rush


What’s it about? Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a New York City bike messenger who picks up a package for delivery. What seems like a routine job is immediately complicated when a crooked cop (Michael Shannon) starts following Wilee, desperate to get his hands on the parcel at all costs.

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG-13 for “for some violence, intense action sequences and language.” It’s safe for teens.

Is it any good? Critics say the Certified Fresh Premium Rush doesn’t always adhere to the rules of common sense, but it’s so fast-paced and exciting that you probably won’t care, and Shannon makes for a frightening antagonist.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days


What’s it about? In this third installment of the kid franchise, Zachary Gordon stars yet again as Greg Heffley, who finds himself bereft of summer plans. To stave off boredom, our hero pretends to have a job at a country club and embarks on an ill-fated camping trip.

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG for “some rude humor.” Middle schoolers will not be traumatized.

Is it any good? Critics say Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is warm and reasonably amusing, but it feels more like a sitcom than a feature film.

Trouble with the Curve


What’s it about? Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) is an aging baseball scout who’s losing both his sight and his preternatural gift for judging talent. Gus’ daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) joins him on a road trip to scout a top prospect, mending their frayed relationship in the process.

Who’s it for? It’s rated PG-13 for “for language, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking.” It’s safe for teens, but it’s not a typical sports-action-oriented baseball movie.

Is it any good? Critics say Trouble With the Curve may not be a home run, but it’s a solid single: it’s warm, well-acted, and really, really predictable.