Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: Pixels, Paper Towns, and Paul Blart

by | July 24, 2015 | Comments

In Theaters This Week

Pixels (2015) 16%

Rating: PG-13, for some language and suggestive comments.

Aliens attack the Earth in the form of classic ’80s video games — Pac-Man, Centipede, Donkey Kong — in this quote-unquote comedy starring Adam Sandler. As a former gaming prodigy, Sandler’s character must save the planet, alongside old friends and foes (Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage). Michelle Monaghan co-stars as a brilliant lieutenant colonel who devises the technology to defeat these pixelated villains, but she’s also relegated to playing a weak and weepy woman — the worst kind of clichéd stereotype. (Misogyny is rampant elsewhere, as well, with one female video game warrior who literally becomes a trophy for Gad’s character.) Such thematic dilemmas aside, for the most part, this is OK for your kids. Actually, it’s much more for children than it is for adults, despite its lazy efforts to evoke ’80s nostalgia. There’s a bit of language. The alien attack is quite literally cartoonish and never really scary, but several people do disintegrate as they get sucked up into a spaceship. (That’s the only part that freaked out my 5 ½-year-old son.) And at one point, Qbert pees. It’s hilarious.

Paper Towns (2015) 57%

Rating: PG-13, for some language, drinking, sexuality and nudity — all involving teens.

A sweetly geeky high school senior (Nat Wolff) goes on an all-night adventure with his neighbor from across the street (Cara Delevingne), his one-time, childhood pal who’s now the rebellious, cool girl. The next morning, she mysteriously has disappeared, inspiring him and his two best friends to go on a hunt to find her. Paper Towns is based on the novel by John Green (The Fault in Our Stars), so the young-adult crowd probably knows what’s in store. There’s some teen-movie partying, including beer bongs, keg stands and subsequent vomiting. A couple of characters engage in a hot-and-heavy make-out session, and a couple of others ponder the prospect of losing their virginity to each other on prom night. And there’s a bit of language. But this is totally fine for tweens and older. It’s a movie that I really liked — but I would have loved it if I’d seen it at age 13.

New on DVD

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (2015) 5%

Rating: PG, for some violence.

This movie is terrible. I mean, it’s harmless in terms of its content. There isn’t really anything offensive or racy or objectionable. It’s just painfully unfunny. But if this is the only family-friendly movie available to rent… well, you’ll still be annoyed that you wasted your time and money. Kevin James reprises his title role from the slapsticky and inexplicably successful Paul Blart: Mall Cop from six years ago. This time, his portly and bumbling character travels to Las Vegas for a security guard convention. There, he accidentally thwarts a massive art heist with the help of his college-bound daughter (Raini Rodriguez). She briefly finds herself in peril when she first discovers the scheme, and some of the bad guys carry guns. (Most of the fighting takes place with non-lethal weaponry, however.) But before they ever leave town, Paul’s mother is run over and killed by a milk truck in abrupt fashion at the film’s start. Like the other James movie out this week, Pixels, it’s just hilarious.

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