Avengers: Infinity War is one of most anticipated movies — if not the most anticipated movie — of the year, so even if you haven’t been particularly invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, chances are your kids have bugged you about seeing it this weekend. That said, it is an explosive, intense, exhausting, emotional affair, and it may not be suitable for all children. Read on for Christy Lemire’s helpful take on Infinity War‘s family-friendliness and a trio of alternative adventures with big ensemble casts that you can watch at home instead.
Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, language and some crude references.
This is the biggie you’ve been waiting for: the crossover extravaganza uniting all your favorite superheroes. Infinity War connects the various stories from the previous stand-alone offerings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, the Captain America and Thor flicks, etc. – for one elaborate, dizzying battle against a seemingly insurmountable villain. Iron Man and Spider-Man, Black Widow and Black Panther, Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange and many more – they all must team up to fight the massive Thanos, who’s collecting all six Infinity Stones to use their power to wipe out half the population. It’s heavy stuff, but directors Anthony and Joe Russo also aim to keep things light with the witty banter Marvel movies so often feature. But as the title suggests, Infinity War is indeed a war, with enormous, destructive battle sequences and a ton of weaponry and punishing fistfights. The stakes truly are life and death for millions of people and – spoiler alert – for some of our heroes, as well. Besides being an emotionally dense movie, Infinity War is extremely long at two and a half hours, and of course you’ll want to stay until the very end for the teaser of the next movie. And there’s quite a bit of language scattered throughout. This is the most intense Marvel film yet, both thematically and visually, and it’s probably appropriate for viewers around 10 and older.
Avengers: Infinity War isn’t the first movie to feature a massive cast of major stars. If the latest from Marvel is too much for your kids, here are a few suggestions you can share with the whole family:
If you thought Infinity War sounded long, add another hour and you’ll have this all-star, Oscar-winning comedy classic. Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers, Jonathan Winters, Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner and Jim Backus are among the enormous cast of characters here. A bunch of frustrated folks get stuck in a traffic accident caused by a careless driver (Jimmy Durante). He tells everyone he’s hidden a huge, stolen fortune under a giant W — then he dies suddenly, sending the confused onlookers on a crazy chase. There’s a ton of slapstick humor here, with various characters getting injured along the way. Smoking and drinking are common, given the era. But the wide variety of methods the characters use to find the money is amusing for all ages. Think of it as a precursor to The Amazing Race. Fine for viewers around 6 or 7 and older; and because it’s so long, maybe you can watch it with them in pieces.
A classic ‘70s disaster spectacular and the winner of three Academy Awards, including best cinematography. It also earned a nomination for best picture — so it’s high-quality schlock. Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner, Susan Blakely, Jennifer Jones, and O.J. Simpson (back when he was still beloved and popular) are among the film’s stars. The extravaganza from producer Irwin Allen takes place at the opening of an enormous – but badly built – San Francisco skyscraper. When a massive fire breaks out, the entire building and everyone inside are in danger. Destruction abounds and many people perish. There’s also a helicopter crash and several explosions. It’s intense and long at two hours and 45 minutes, but The Towering Inferno is also about perseverance, bravery and teamwork. Fine for viewers around 9 or 10 and older.
Rating: PG-13, for some language and sexual content.
These are my Avengers: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Don Cheadle and more in a remake of a 1960 film that was just as star-studded (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Angie Dickinson, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop). In both movies, a rag-tag band of charismatic thieves dares to pull off a massive Las Vegas casino heist in one night. Steven Soderbergh’s version is glitzy and fizzy – the most irresistible bit of escapist fun. Everyone’s gorgeous, the banter is witty, and the pacing is snappy. The movie does ask you to root for con artists and criminals, but the tycoon they’re stealing from isn’t exactly a good guy himself. Some punches get thrown and there are a few explosions. There’s a bit of language scattered throughout. And there’s one scene involving strippers at a nightclub, but we don’t see very much. All in all, a blast for the older kids in your family – and a good primer for the all-female Ocean’s 8, coming out in June. Good for tweens and up.