Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: The Giver, Plus Muppets Most Wanted and Bears on DVD

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

by | August 15, 2014 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:

The Giver

35%

Rating: PG-13, for mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence.

This sci-fi drama/thriller is based on yet another Young Adult novel set in a rigid, post-war future. Naturally, this means one plucky teen will rise up and shake up the status quo for the benefit of the oppressed masses. Brenton Thwaites plays that teen, Jonas, who learns that he will become the keeper of all memory in this antiseptic, black-and-white community. Jeff Bridges plays the giver of the film’s title, who passes down the knowledge he’s been storing. This includes color, music and love but also violence, war and hatred, with a series of harrowing images flashing through the young man’s mind. Jonas and his girlfriend, Fiona (Odeya Rush), end up in danger when it becomes clear to the elders (led by Meryl Streep, no less) that they’ve begun thinking for themselves. There’s also a disturbing subplot involving the killing of infants who aren’t up to the community’s precise standards. For mature tweens and older.

New On DVD:

Muppets Most Wanted

80%

Rating: PG, for some mild action.

There is nothing even remotely inappropriate in this sequel to the 2011 Muppets reboot. In their latest singing and dancing extravaganza, the felt-covered friends find themselves performing in major cities across Europe. But there’s an impostor in their midst: an internationally infamous jewel thief named Constantine who happens to look exactly like Kermit the Frog. Miss Piggy is in peril (briefly) and the rest of the gang also ends up in peril (briefly) trying to rescue her. A hilarious Tina Fey plays the warden of the Siberian gulag where much of the action occurs, but the prison is portrayed in such a silly way that there’s nothing disturbing about it. Totally fine for all ages.

Bears

89%

Rating: G.

Disney already has produced the documentaries Earth, Oceans, African Cats and Chimpanzees through its Disneynature label. Now they’re offering a close-up look at bears, who are mostly cuddly and adorable. The film follows a mama bear named Sky and her two cubs, Scout and Amber, as they dig out from their snowy cave in the Alaskan wilderness and head down the mountain to look for food. Dangers await, though, in the form of larger and hungrier bears and wolves as well as rising water and the threat of starvation. (But you’ll be happy to know that nothing nearly so gruesome as the bloody zebra mauling of African Cats occurs here.) There are a few tense moments but John C. Reilly’s amiable narration assures you that everything will be fine in the end. And the film is beautifully, intimately shot, so it’s at least worthwhile from a visual perspective. Suitable (and educational) for all ages.