Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.
This is an extremely violent PG-13 movie. I’m actually kind of amazed that it gets a PG-13 rating — it’s right there on the edge of the most you can get away with before earning an R. In keeping with other movies in the Jurassic Park series, people get straight-up eaten here. Or trampled. Or torn to pieces. There’s no other way to phrase it — it’s a movie about dinosaurs run amok at a (supposedly) family-friendly theme park. Thousands flee in terror as dinosaurs stomp and roar and tear their way through the scenery and eateries. The biggest of them all is the genetically engineered Indominus Rex, which stands 50 feet high and contains strands of DNA from various other creatures, which makes it unstoppable. A couple of kids are in particular danger: A teenager and his younger brother, visiting their aunt (Bryce Dallas Howard), who’s a top executive at Jurassic World. Luckily, a tough-guy velociraptor trainer (Chris Pratt) is there to save the day. I really wouldn’t bring kids to this. Maybe this is OK for viewers around 13 and up.
Rating: PG-13, for sexual content, drug material, language and some thematic elements.
The darling of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, this is an indie about the unlikely friendship that forms between a couple of middle-class Pittsburgh high school seniors: Greg (Thomas Mann), who prides himself on not getting too attached to anyone, and Rachel (Olivia Cooke), who’s been diagnosed with leukemia. The one person Greg does associate with — his “co-worker,” as he calls him — is Earl (R.J. Cyler) — with whom he makes awesomely terrible knock-offs of classic films like “The 400 Blows,” “A Clockwork Orange” and “Rashomon.” Despite the laughs and the sweet friendship that forms, the threat of death hovers constantly. There are several intense conversations and serious heart-tugging moments. Earl makes many references to the fact that Greg should make a move on Rachel — although he doesn’t phrase it quite so felicitously. And at one point, Greg and Earl accidentally get stoned. Probably OK for tweens and older.
Rating: PG-13, for crude and sexual material throughout, some language and teen partying.
Based on Kody Keplinger’s YA novel of the same name, this high school romantic comedy upends the notions of cliques, hierarchies and labels. The material may seem familiar to many young viewers, but even if you or your children haven’t read the book, you’ll all recognize the settings and social challenges. Mae Whitman is completely adorable as Bianca, a smart, funny high school senior who discovers she’s the DUFF — or Designated Ugly Fat Friend — to her two gorgeous and glamorous best pals. As she struggles to make over her image, she must navigate the school’s mean girl, the emo boy she adores, and her lifelong next-door neighbor and friend, who happens to be the school’s hunky football captain. There’s a lot of candid discussion about kissing and sex, much of which takes place during an embarrassing video of Bianca that goes viral. Bianca also imagines herself in passionate make-out sessions in a couple of dream sequences. The film’s message of self-worth is extremely worthwhile, though. OK for tweens and up.
Rating: PG-13, for some language and sexual content.
This time-travel adventure is probably OK for mature, older tweens and up. A teenager who’s headed for M.I.T. stumbles upon the blueprints and parts to build a time machine with his pals. They do all the fun things you’d do if you could go back in time — win the lottery, ace a test — but they also, you know, wreak havoc. Director Dean Israelite’s film explores many of the same what-if scenarios you typically see from this genre, with a few twists. One of those is the use of hand-held, shaky-cam footage, so if that usually gives you a headache or makes you nauseous, beware. Also: There’s quite a bit of language (these are teenagers, after all), some sexual joking, innocent partying and some intense, destructive moments as the time machine kicks into gear.