There are two superhero movies coming out this weekend, but one of them is an animated feature based on a series of children’s books about a not-so-super hero who traipses around in his unmentionables. The other movie — one you might have heard something about lately — is the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe, and Christy is here to let you know which side of PG-13 it sits on. Read on for all the details on the two wide releases, plus a couple of new DVDs.
NOW IN THEATERS
Rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content.
So many parent friends of mine – with little girls, especially – have asked me whether this big-screen version of Wonder Woman is suitable for their kids. And the answer, as much as I hate to say it, is: probably not. Not yet, at least. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great. But it’s also extremely violent. The origin story of Diana Prince (a hugely charismatic Gal Gadot), the Amazon warrior who’d become a superhero, is both thrilling and moving. Director Patty Jenkins has pulled off a tricky balance of humor, heart, and high-tech spectacle that’s genuinely inspiring. But Wonder Woman also features several long, graphic action sequences. There’s a ton of gunfire, swordplay, and hand-to-hand combat. Several characters die, and while there isn’t a lot of blood (hence the PG-13 rating), the movie definitely doesn’t shy away from showing the actual deaths. We see people in peril – including women and children — during World War I battles. In one scene, a room full of bad guys perish from poisonous gas. There’s also the suggestion of a sex scene between Diana and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), the American spy she rescues from a crash landing, but all we see is kissing in a hotel room. At over two hours, Wonder Woman also might be too long for many young viewers. I brought my 7 ½-year-old son with me and he was fine, but he’s also seen a) a lot of movies in general, and b) a lot of comic-book movies specifically. (He also loved it – and he wasn’t so enthusiastic about seeing it beforehand.) But Diana is heroic and brave, idealistic and pure, she’s usually the smartest and most capable person in the room or on the battlefield. That’s all worthwhile. But I suspect this would be too much just yet for viewers younger than 8 or 9.
Rating: PG, for mild rude humor throughout.
If your kids are fans of the Captain Underpants books, they will love this movie. They will be laughing hysterically throughout the entire thing, and they’ll be singing its unlikely superhero’s catch phrase – “Tra la laaa!” – as they leave the theater. The good news is, as a parent, you’ll have a blast, too – whether or not you’re familiar with the Captain Underpants extended universe. Director David Soren’s film, written by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek), draws from a few of author Dav Pilkey’s hugely popular books. It introduces best friends George (voiced by Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch), who spend their days designing comic books and plotting elaborate pranks at their elementary school. But one day they go too far, and they turn their mean principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms), into the comic hero of their dreams: Captain Underpants. Nothing in here is vaguely inappropriate – unless you have a problem with jokes about poop, pee, farts and toilets. And Captain Underpants actually has a valuable message about being kind to people who are friendless or who’ve been bullied. But mostly it’s about potty humor. Fine for all ages.
NEW ON DVD
Rating: PG-13, for thematic material including some violence.
Viewers around 11 or 12 and older should be OK here, even though it’s about pretty grown-up stuff. This weepy religious film is based on a New York Times best seller about a father (Sam Worthington) who goes on a spiritual journey after the tragic loss of his young daughter (Amelie Eve). The little girl is kidnapped and killed during a family camping trip, leaving him bereft and faithless and eroding his relationships with his wife (Radha Mitchell) and two other kids (Megan Charpentier and Gage Munroe). Then one day, a mysterious note in his mailbox leads him back to the scene of the crime – and to an idyllic shack in the woods where he meets God (Octavia Spencer), Jesus (Aviv Alush), and the Holy Spirit (Sumire Matsubara). Thematically alone, this is too much for very young viewers to handle. We see visions of the young girl being carried away, and we witness the father’s pain and remorse. There’s also a scene in which another kid nearly drowns and requires CPR. And at over two hours, the running time alone will make this a tough sit for kids.
Rating: PG-13, for mature thematic content involving drinking, sexuality, bullying, some violent images, and language – all involving teens.
Young teens and older should be fine watching this angsty but well-acted high school drama. Think Groundhog Day meets Heathers. Zoey Deutch stars as a popular high school senior who wakes up the morning after a raging party to find she’s living the previous day all over again. Then it happens the next morning, and the next. And it keeps happening, over and over, regardless of the slight tweaks she makes to jar herself loose from this time loop. In the process, she learns to see her mean-girl friends more clearly and treasure what’s truly important in life. Director Ry Russo-Young’s film features a ton of language and frank talk about sex. Teens also get super drunk at the party Deutch’s character and her friends attend, and they bully an awkward girl who shows up uninvited. And there’s a major car accident that serves as an important plot point, which we see again and again from various perspectives.