This colorful and lively but derivative animated comedy follows the unlikely friendship that forms between an alien and a lonely girl. Jim Parsons provides the voice of a well-meaning but socially awkward creature named Oh, who’s part of a species of space beings called the Boov who take over Earth. But when Oh makes a giant mistake which makes him a fugitive, he hooks up with a seventh grader named Tip (voiced by Rihanna); she’s looking for her mother (Jennifer Lopez), who got sucked up into a spaceship and relocated when the Boov invaded. The idea of being alone and separated from a parent might be disturbing to some kids. And the bad-guy aliens who are after the Boov might seem frightening, although they’re menacing in a rather cartoonish way. There’s also the general threat that the world might blow up at any minute, but alongside that big idea are lots of goofy fart and pee jokes. This is a totally suitable diversion for kids of nearly all ages.
Rating: PG-13, for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.
If your kids are old enough and/or mature enough to have seen any of the previous J.R.R. Tolkien adaptations, then they (and you) know what they’re in for with this last installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. Plus, it has the words “battle” and “armies” in the title, so naturally it has loads of graphic violence and a high body count. But even before all the fighting begins between various orcs and dwarves and elves, the frightening dragon Smaug (menacingly voiced once again by Benedict Cumberbatch) wreaks fiery havoc on the innocent people of Laketown. In theory, if you’ve devoted your time and energy to the first two films, you’re going to want to see the finale to find out how it all ends — and discover how it leads up to The Lord of the Rings. But be warned that for younger and less mature viewers, it’s all pretty intense, and the mythology might be confusing, and it is extremely long at nearly two and a half hours.
Rating: PG, for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material.
Even though this musical is inspired by beloved fairy tales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk, it has its origins in a Stephen Sondheim production — and Sondheim’s work, with its dense lyrics and complicated melodies, might be a lot for young viewers to handle. Still, this is a Disneyfied version of Into the Woods, so a lot of the more mature details about the young characters’ sexual awakening have been softened to secure a PG rating and appeal to the widest possible audience. The forest where the characters’ paths cross is dark, gnarled and ominous — although, as the song goes, “The woods are just trees. The trees are just wood.” But the playfulness of the first half gives way to heavier themes of sacrifice and death in the second half. I brought my 5-year-old son to the screening with me and the main thing that scared him was the giant that appears toward the end. The witch (played by Meryl Streep) might seem scary for the youngest viewers, too. This is probably best for kids around age 8 and older.