Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: The Maze Runner, Godzilla, and more

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

by | September 18, 2014 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:

The Maze Runner


Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images.

This is yet another sci-fi thriller based on yet another young adult novel set in a rigidly structured, dystopian future. The tween and teen readers who are the targets for the James Dashner book will know what they’re getting into here. Still, this is a pretty violent and often harrowing PG-13 film. Dylan O’Brien (from MTV’s Teen Wolf) stars as Thomas, a young man who winds up in a pastoral square called the Glade. He has no memory of who he is or how he got there, similar to the dozens of other teenage boys who preceded him and have built their own society there. But Thomas soon becomes curious about the dangerous maze that lies outside the giant concrete walls surrounding the Glade. Ravenous, fast-moving creatures await in those dark corridors, and we see them tear some of the characters apart. The big reveal which explains how all these kids ended up here and what they’re intended for is filled with gunfire and it grows deadly pretty quickly. This is not for the young or the squeamish.

New On DVD:



Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence.

It’s big and noisy and scary, as you would expect from a sci-fi blockbuster monster movie. The latest incarnation of Godzilla starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston, duly features mass urban destruction and masses fleeing in terror. This time, the big green guy stomps across San Francisco as he battles a couple of other enormous creatures that grow stronger through radioactivity. Untold thousands find themselves in peril, including a school bus full of kids on the Golden Gate Bridge. The special effects in director Gareth Edwards’ film are really sharp — crisp, textural, visceral — making some of the battle sequences truly tense and terrifying. The sound design is also quite vivid, with its ominous creaks, groans and roars. This is probably suitable for kids around age 10 and older.

The Fault In Our Stars


Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language.

This is totally suitable for the teens and tweens who are familiar with John Green’s best-selling young adult novel about cancer patients in love. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort’s characters, Hazel and Augustus, refuse to be defined by the mawkish pop culture clichés of the genre, however. They are self-aware and hyper-verbal. So they curse a lot and do stupid things and behave like typical teenagers in general. They also lose their virginity to each other in an Amsterdam hotel room, but it’s handled very tastefully and there’s barely any nudity. And Woodley gets to enjoy the one F-bomb you’re allowed with a PG-13 rating. The characters experience quite a lot of joy with each other, but the prospect of death lingers over their romance at all times. Probably too mature for anyone under the tween ages.

Think Like a Man Too


Rating: PG-13, for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language a drug material.

Clichéd, wacky Las Vegas hijinks are in full force in this sequel to the 2012 hit comedy Think Like a Man. The whole crew has reassembled, with a handful of new characters, for the wedding of Mama’s boy Michael (Terrence J) and single mom Candace (Regina Hall). So in addition to the Sin City clichés, we also have all the usual bachelor/bachelorette party antics. That means strip clubs for everyone (although there’s very little actual nudity) and a ton of drinking and partying hard with hot men and women. Jerry Ferrara’s character complains that he can’t smoke pot anymore because he and his wife (Gabrielle Union) are trying to have a baby. But! He does think to bring along some marijuana-laced gum, which the ladies accidentally pop into their mouths. Everybody eventually ends up in a brawl, which lands them all in jail. Between the risqué activities and the talks about boring, adult subjects like careers, marriage and family, this is probably best suited for tweens and older.

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