Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: Planes and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

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

by | August 8, 2013 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:



Rating: PG, for some mild action and rude humor.

This animated adventure is a spin-off of the Cars world, so those airplane eyeballs will look familiar to your kids, and you, and anyone who’s ever been to a store that sells backpacks and bedspreads. Dane Cook provides the voice of Dusty, a crop-dusting plane who dreams of taking part in an around-the-world race. Kind of like a snail who dreams of competing in the Indianapolis 500…but anyway. This is extremely kid-friendly, to the point of being colorfully bland. True danger only exists briefly in a couple of scenes: a bad storm that threatens Dusty’s survival over an ocean and a quick World War II flashback. Your kids may be bored (my 3 ½-year-old was — and eventually, he fell asleep) but they’ll never be truly frightened. Oh, and of course there’s the obligatory poop joke, right at the end. ‘Cause poop is funny.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters


Rating: PG for fantasy action violence, some scary images and mild language.

It’s rated PG but there’s actually some legitimately scary stuff in this sequel to 2010’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Monsters kill a little girl in the opening scene. A giant, transforming robot bull rampages through an idyllic forest community, trying to trample, gore and shoot fire at the pleasingly multicultural mix of demigod teens and satyrs who live there. And after taking on a fearsome Cyclops, Poseidon’s son Percy (Logan Lerman) and his pals must conquer the giant, stomping, child-eating Titan Kronos. The theater was packed with families, but this Harry Potter knock-off is probably suitable for kids ages 7 or 8 and up.

New On DVD:



Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi action violence, brief strong language, and some sensuality/nudity.

A visually dazzling but narratively derivative sci-fi thriller starring Tom Cruise as a drone mechanic in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world (as if there were any other kind). Machines think for themselves in ways that may seem a little startling. The decimation of the planet provides some arresting imagery, but it probably won’t seem too disturbing for older kids who are interested in this genre. There are some intense chase sequences, some confrontations with predatory alien creatures, a bit of language and a glass-bottom space pool where Cruise cavorts with his live-in work partner/love interest. Overall, suitable for older kids.



Rating: PG-13, for some violence, sexual references, language, thematic elements and smoking.

One of the best movies of the year also happens to be a really strong pick for older kids — say, tweens and up — who are capable of handling some sophisticated subject matter. Director Jeff Nichols’ Southern coming-of-age drama follows a couple of 14-year-old boys who befriend a fugitive killer played by a charismatic and frightening Matthew McConaughey. These are not pretentious, cutesy moppets but rather tough kids who end up in danger — which includes being shot at by bad guys. One of the boys also finds himself in serious peril when a deadly snake bites him. Just as startling for these kids, though, is the shattering of their illusions about the way the grown-up world really works.

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