Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: The Lego Movie, Vampire Academy and Monuments Men, Plus Free Birds

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

by | February 7, 2014 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:

The Lego Movie


Rating: PG, for mild action and rude humor.

A hilarious and high-spirited adventure that adults actually might enjoy more than their kids. (At least that was the case in our house with our 4-year-old son.) Chris Pratt provides the voice of Emmet, an ordinary construction worker Lego who discovers a mysterious piece of red plastic, thereby fulfilling a prophecy from an ancient mystic (Morgan Freeman). Emmet is now believed to be The Special, the one who will save the Lego universe from destruction. There’s nothing really shocking or inappropriate here; the bad guys, including the megalomaniacal Lord Business (Will Ferrell), are too amusingly cartoonish to be scary. The obliteration of Lego worlds that occurs looks a lot like what happens when kids create towers and characters and then smash them to bits. But there is a third-act twist that supplies a surprising amount of emotion; it may shake your kids up a bit and bring a tear to grown-ups’ eyes, too.

Vampire Academy


Rating: PG-13, for violence, bloody images, sexual content and language.

Based on the series of young adult novels about teen vampire royalty and the guardians assigned to protect them from the evil, immortal vampires who want to lure then over to the dark side. Best friends Lissa (Lucy Fry) and Rose (Zoey Deutch) also must navigate the daily dramas of high school, which they accomplish with the help of cheeky banter. Plenty of blood-sucking, hand-to-hand-combat, stabbings and general peril abounds. There’s also a subplot involving bloody animal mutilation, which is a tad gnarly. And among the high-school gossip about various hook-ups is the suggestion that one of the female characters took part in a ménage a trois with a couple of male classmates. So that awkward conversation awaits you. Mostly suitable for the tween/teen girl audience the books targets, as well.

The Monuments Men


Rating: PG-13, for some images of war violence and historical smoking.

George Clooney directed, co-wrote and stars in this World War II drama about a ragtag band of art historians who pretend to be U.S. Army soldiers to rescue priceless paintings and sculptures that Adolf Hitler stole. It’s based on a real-life story but doesn’t have much life to it, despite a starry cast that includes Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray and John Goodman. Still, because the film takes place during a war, not all members of the team make it out alive. There’s also a ton of gunfire, explosions and a tense scene in which one of the characters discovers he’s stepped on a landmine. Plus, you know, there’s that pesky dilemma of having to explain who Hitler was. Fine for tweens and teens.

New On DVD:

Free Birds


Rating: PG, for some action/peril and rude humor.

One of the flattest and least funny animated films I’ve ever seen. But if this is the only movie available for the whole family to watch, it’s pretty harmless. Owen Wilson provides his distinctive, nasal twang as the voice of Reggie, a turkey who realizes he and his buddies are all being fattened up for Thanksgiving dinners. He and an amped-up turkey named Jake (Woody Harrelson) go back in time to the first Thanksgiving to keep their kind off the menu for good. There’s a jumble of stuff going on here – characters, themes, ideas – as well as a big battle scene, but it provides more spectacle than scares. And a metaphorical subplot involving the plight of Native Americans in the United States will probably go over kids’ heads.

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