Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: White House Down and A Band Called Death

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

by | June 28, 2013 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:

White House Down


Rating: PG-13, for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image.

Yet another White-House-under-siege movie? So soon? Just a few months after the release of Olympus Has Fallen, our nation’s capital once again is being attacked on screen. The difference is, that film was rated R, so you saw the physical consequence of massive gun battles. The PG-13 White House Down has the kind of insane violence you’d expect from director Roland Emmerich — both up-close-and-personal shootings in close quarters and barrages of automatic gunfire from the skies — but with barely any blood. It’s just as numbing but not nearly so gruesome. More troubling to me, as a mom, was watching Joey King, as Channing Tatum’s 11-year-old daughter, being used as a pawn — seeing her roughed up by bad guys, including having a gun placed to her head several times. She’s a tough girl capable of standing up for herself, but the extent to which the villains abuse her as a source of audience thrills seemed gratuitous and made me uneasy. Whether or not these images disturb older kids, they’ll likely bother their parents. Also: Jamie Foxx, as the Obamaesque president, drops the one F-bomb you get with a PG-13 rating.

A Band Called Death


Rating: Unrated but contains language and smoking.

This documentary is actually a great choice for kids this week, especially if they’re into music or are aspiring performers themselves. It traces the origins of a long-forgotten band called Death, hence the title: three black, teenage brothers from Detroit who pioneered the punk sound in the early 1970s, long before the Sex Pistols or the Ramones. Their songs completely rock and stand up with just as much vibrancy and vitality today. But the story of how they taught themselves to play in their modest home, worked tirelessly to perfect their sound and hustled to get their music out to the world is a terrific lesson for young people — especially those for whom American Idol is the standard for achieving success.

New On DVD:

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone


Rating: PG-13, for sexual content, dangerous stunts, a drug-related incident and language.

Steve Carell pulls off the seemingly impossible feat of being unlikable as an arrogant Las Vegas magician whose longtime act has grown outdated and unpopular. Jim Carrey, as a gonzo, Criss Angel-style street performer with a cable TV show called “Brain Rapist,” steals his spotlight and his audience. His stunts are outrageously over-the-top: ridiculous stuff like sleeping overnight on hot coals and holding his urine for several days straight. In theory, it’s all too cartoonish to give your kids any ideas, but who knows? Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have that talk with them about not trying this stuff at home. Especially if you have boys.

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