Parental Guidance

How Family-Friendly Are Aquaman and Bumblebee?

Film critic Christy Lemire breaks down what to expect if you're taking the whole fam to see the latest DCEU movie or the Transformers prequel.

by | December 21, 2018 | Comments

With a total of seven new films either opening in wide release or expanding from limited this weekend, it’s no surprise that at least three of them will be competing to draw in younger viewers. Of those three, two are rated PG-13, namely the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe and a prequel to the Transformers franchise. Both have gotten solid reviews, but exactly how much do each of them lean into that PG-13 rating? Christy Lemire offers the parental perspective on both, in case you’re in the mood to treat the family to a pre-Christmas big screen adventure.


Aquaman (2018) 65%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.

Over-the-top, underwater adventures abound in this insane DC Comics prequel from Furious 7 director James Wan. Jason Momoa stars as the titular superhero, a half-human, half-Atlantean living on the land who reluctantly accepts that he must take his place as heir to the throne of Atlantis in the sea. A multitude of obstacles lie in his path, including entire armies of men, sea creatures, and men riding on sea creatures. It’s knowingly silly and outlandish, but it can also be extremely violent. The hulking Momoa’s Arthur Curry takes on countless foes with his bare hands, flattening and flinging people across the room with ease. One scene finds Arthur and the Atlantean princess Mera (Amber Heard) fighting off a terrifying swarm of ravenous, sharp-toothed monsters. We also see several perilous chases, stabbings and a ton of gunfire from a variety of weapons. The script includes quite a bit of language, as well as some romantic tension and kissing between Arthur and Mera. It’s all the usual comic book movie stuff, but even more so – and that includes a running time that pushes 2 ½ hours. I’d say this is suitable for viewers around 10 and older, especially if they’ve seen other blockbusters like this before.

Bumblebee (2018) 92%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of sci-fi action violence.

This is a shockingly good Transformers movie. It’s also the only good Transformers movie, but its joys aren’t merely relative. Director Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) has managed to find actual humanity within one of these behemoth action spectacles about robots in disguise, so much so that Bumblebee might even bring a tear or two to your eye. Set in 1987, the movie serves as an origin story for the good-natured, yellow Autobot who communicates through songs on the radio. The tomboyish, teenage Charlie (a charismatic Hailee Steinfeld) finds him as a beat-up Volkswagen Bug, brings him home and fixes him up. Once he reveals his true self, the two become fast friends (no pun intended). But Charlie and her smitten neighbor, Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), soon get sucked into the intergalactic battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. There’s quite a bit of rock ’em, sock ’em robot action here — giant, noisy, punishing brawls resulting in mass injury and destruction — but not as much as you’d ordinarily see in a Transformers movie. In a lot of ways, Bumblebee actually has more in common with E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial, especially as Charlie copes with the absence of her father by befriending a sweet alien being. I brought my 9-year-old son with me to a screening and we both loved it. I’d say this is fine for viewers around 8 or 9 and older; this is one of the rare occasions in which a PG-13 rating seems too harsh.

Tag Cloud

Star Wars National Geographic Epix Black Mirror Martial Arts crossover psychological thriller Logo blaxploitation Avengers disaster romance BET NBC DGA Paramount spinoff Countdown Film Festival Mary Poppins Returns Bravo Trivia TNT Academy Awards anthology science fiction Netflix Podcast spider-man Tubi ABC Family sports E! Mudbound Watching Series cancelled CW Seed comiccon PaleyFest Disney nature DC Comics composers HBO Max Calendar 45 teaser boxoffice Classic Film HBO crime thriller Shondaland indie latino Discovery Channel zombies Brie Larson screenings MCU GoT Warner Bros. MSNBC Freeform Pop 2017 true crime USA Network Masterpiece Photos Drama FX sag awards aliens Holiday WGN mutant 71st Emmy Awards El Rey ratings cats Holidays witnail Acorn TV Mary poppins WarnerMedia Apple TV+ Ovation The CW free movies American Society of Cinematographers biography breaking bad book Red Carpet Disney Channel TIFF Creative Arts Emmys Rock Video Games historical drama green book directors RT History robots Extras Marvel travel Mystery dc comic Fox News crime cops X-Men Box Office Pixar documentary Country YA YouTube Red Song of Ice and Fire USA Cannes Sundance TV adventure Sundance Chilling Adventures of Sabrina thriller Polls and Games Christmas TCA Winter 2020 crime drama christmas movies E3 BBC America Syfy 20th Century Fox 007 Nominations Marvel Studios SundanceTV Tumblr hist Esquire The Witch IFC Universal joker vampires TruTV Netflix Christmas movies Horror Arrowverse jamie lee curtis Summer Lionsgate what to watch singing competition Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Pet Sematary foreign Superheroes docudrama Food Network San Diego Comic-Con IFC Films GIFs ghosts Turner Classic Movies CBS All Access Cartoon Network based on movie Women's History Month golden globes Spring TV Hulu Set visit casting President The Walking Dead Sundance Now Heroines Western Trailer series spain anime justice league cars cancelled television Pirates Best and Worst spy thriller Thanksgiving Animation Winter TV Vudu hispanic Walt Disney Pictures screen actors guild ESPN Kids & Family FOX discovery Election Chernobyl natural history Rocky PBS television Captain marvel doctor who richard e. Grant First Look Comics on TV finale Starz Disney streaming service Apple MTV Reality Superheroe serial killer theme song sequel rotten movies we love The Arrangement psycho Disney Plus Premiere Dates harry potter talk show Nickelodeon Sneak Peek Nat Geo unscripted kids YouTube cancelled TV series Dark Horse Comics Columbia Pictures renewed TV shows Year in Review New York Comic Con Tarantino facebook SXSW TV Land Fall TV Star Trek VH1 Ellie Kemper Mary Tyler Moore Stephen King Anna Paquin Opinion Comic Book APB SDCC Reality Competition Marvel Television Family TV renewals toy story mockumentary Marathons comics cancelled TV shows A&E game show TLC halloween GLAAD zombie Ghostbusters name the review 2015 Pride Month Britbox Comedy Central video cults stand-up comedy First Reviews Teen Quiz Fantasy Biopics adaptation canceled Awards Tour Comedy 2020 2016 politics TCA VICE reboot TCA 2017 CNN DC streaming service Binge Guide Cosplay cartoon Writers Guild of America OWN BBC Schedule DirecTV elevated horror versus cinemax festivals social media ITV Super Bowl binge Musicals The Purge Character Guide canceled TV shows ABC YouTube Premium transformers Turner Music Toys Emmy Nominations CMT Television Academy diversity Rom-Com Lifetime Trophy Talk zero dark thirty technology CBS 24 frames Film period drama movies Infographic Shudder sitcom 2019 animated cooking OneApp tv talk Apple TV Plus Amazon Prime war dragons Interview Emmys LGBTQ Lifetime Christmas movies TCM strong female leads Valentine's Day A24 Showtime Sony Pictures Tomatazos Awards Lucasfilm Hallmark Mindy Kaling Winners See It Skip It dramedy Hallmark Christmas movies Endgame FXX Amazon Certified Fresh streaming TV Peacock political drama Elton John game of thrones Musical History blockbuster Grammys Spike dceu revenge Rocketman space quibi Baby Yoda Action slashers TBS 21st Century Fox romantic comedy Oscars spanish language Crunchyroll NYCC medical drama children's TV DC Universe AMC Paramount Network Adult Swim Crackle batman south america RT21 2018 werewolf award winner supernatural independent LGBT Disney+ Disney Plus Sci-Fi miniseries police drama Amazon Prime Video Spectrum Originals