Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: The Hobbit, Saving Mr. Banks and Classic Fantasy Films

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

by | December 13, 2013 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

74%

Rating: PG-13, for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.

The second film in Peter Jackson’s trilogy treatment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is ridiculously violent. Yes, it’s all computer-generated fantasy spectacle, but what a spectacle it is – full of piercing arrows, ominous shadows, stabbings and beheadings, with some of those severed heads flying right at the camera. If the giant talking spiders don’t get you, the fierce (and fiercely ugly) orcs will. General peril abounds as Bilbo Baggins and his dwarf pals try and make their way to the Lonely Mountain – and then once they get there, they must contend with the ferocious and fire-breathing dragon Smaug, voiced menacingly by Benedict Cumberbatch. Given the graphic nature of this movie and the extended running time, this really is just for the most mature tweens and up.

Saving Mr. Banks

79%

Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements including some unsettling images.

I’m actually not quite sure why this movie gets a PG-13 rating – maybe because it includes some flashbacks to a childhood with a father whose alcoholism destroyed him. For the most part, Saving Mr. Banks is a cheery (and not entirely accurate) retelling of how folksy Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) persuaded uptight Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to let his studio make a film based on her cherished children’s book. It’s a shamelessly sentimental infomercial by Disney, for Disney, about Disney, full of upbeat songs and cathartic tears. Fine for most kids.

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas

20%

Rating: PG-13, for sexual references, crude humor and language.

This movie is amazingly terrible — incoherent and sloppily constructed in a way that?s surreal — so if you love your children, you probably shouldn’t take them to see it. But! If you’re at the multiplex trying to find something the whole family can enjoy after a long day of holiday shopping ? well, this still probably isn’t the best choice. Multimedia multi-hyphenate Tyler Perry returns to the sassy drag of his Madea character, a crass and wacky old lady with no internal censor. Most of the stuff she babbles about will go over kids’ heads – references to lingerie, drugs and stripping, for starters. Larry the Cable Guy shows up and magnifies the raunch factor with some sexual innuendos – which, again, probably won’t register with young viewers. There’s also a massively contrived car crash and explosion that might have been vaguely suspenseful in the hands of someone, you know, capable.

New On DVD:

Despicable Me 2

75%

Rating: PG, for rude humor and mild action.

Minions, minions and more minions make this sequel to the 2010 international hit such a delight. There isn’t a single thing in this movie that would make it inappropriate or objectionable in any way. When a powerful potion turns some of the babbling, bright yellow creatures into crazed, purple-monster versions of themselves, they’re a little more manic but never truly frightening. This remains my 4-year-old son’s favorite among the many animated films he saw this year.

Classic Fantasy Films:

Princess Mononoke

93%

This gorgeous and wondrous animated fantasy from Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki features a true warrior princess: a fierce young woman named San (voiced by Claire Danes in the English-language version) who can communicate with the spirits. She finds herself in the center of a war between animals, humans (whom she hates) and demons in a mystical 14th century setting. Too intense and complex for the littlest kids but a thrill for everyone else.

Time Bandits

90%

From the endlessly creative mind of Monty Python animator Terry Gilliam comes this comic adventure about a boy who time travels with a group of dwarves. Along the way, he runs into historical figures including Robin Hood and Napoleon. It’s got some darkness to its tone, which may disturb very little kids. But with its elaborately detailed production design, it’s always a wonder to watch.

The Princess Bride

97%

Long before films like Shrek took familiar fairy-tale conventions and turned them on their head, there was Rob Reiner’s cleverly self-referential comedy. A favorite from my own youth, The Princess Bride remains endlessly quotable with its colorful characters and swashbuckling scenarios. It’s charming and subversive in equal measure but, at its core, has an irresistibly sweet heart.

Tag Cloud

criterion Star Wars Fox Searchlight spider-verse new star wars movies mockumentary green book MCU The Walt Disney Company satire American Society of Cinematographers deadpool SDCC science fiction rt labs Walt Disney Pictures interviews Hallmark golden globe awards nbcuniversal Rock Star Wars Celebration festival The CW GoT X-Men First Look 79th Golden Globes Awards Song of Ice and Fire popular comic versus Marvel Television Hollywood Foreign Press Association wonder woman Stephen King Paramount telelvision Marvel CBS All Access festivals Podcast aliens godzilla ABC Family Exclusive Video mission: impossible VH1 FX Countdown TCM MTV obi wan Nickelodeon The Walking Dead child's play Best Director 2021 robots trophy BET Awards summer preview Brie Larson NYCC Nominations die hard FXX Legendary hist summer TV TV renewals Disney Channel renewed TV shows fast and furious cinemax Black History Month Trophy Talk Emmy Nominations Disney Plus facebook Mindy Kaling LGBTQ prank documentary Trailer Premiere Dates Tomatazos YA Film Festival Amazon Prime Video Emmys Turner Classic Movies ESPN 93rd Oscars rt archives Universal Heroines live event Comedy concert Netflix Christmas movies children's TV DC Comics TLC USA Network worst movies Showtime Pixar young adult dramedy 4/20 Adult Swim all-time docudrama marvel cinematic universe spy thriller Lionsgate halloween Freeform black comedy Travel Channel Chilling Adventures of Sabrina batman Elton John aapi tv talk President BBC America Grammys scorecard Music Tubi A24 spanish language disaster emmy awards free movies Apple TV Plus Sci-Fi Fantasy monster movies natural history Cartoon Network video on demand miniseries animated PBS finale Mary Poppins Returns Disney+ Disney Plus Spike Nat Geo Set visit romance IMDb TV Trivia news Marathons razzies hispanic heritage month sports medical drama SXSW book reboot 2019 feel good scene in color movie blockbusters Biopics remakes adventure Mary poppins Arrowverse San Diego Comic-Con jurassic park rom-coms best Thanksgiving Hallmark Christmas movies Rocky Musicals french Disney Extras sequels Paramount Network ABC Signature South by Southwest Film Festival supernatural comic book movies Election Pop series GIFs cars Holiday heist movie women Photos Christmas Tumblr Drama Spectrum Originals kaiju movies comiccon parents travel Creative Arts Emmys Character Guide sopranos indiana jones teaser spanish NBC social media comic books Epix breaking bad nfl TV movies Certified Fresh japanese cooking TCA 2017 cancelled blockbuster ID Masterpiece biopic CMT cancelled television FX on Hulu Best Actress AMC Broadway Instagram Live live action streamig Peacock Funimation marvel comics Fargo 007 king kong Ovation Endgame TV Amazon slashers sitcom classics game show Prime Video blaxploitation 2020 australia composers Holidays politics comedies discovery saw twilight Mudbound Vudu Amazon Prime streaming movies golden globes quibi Indigenous basketball scene in color series Paramount Plus game of thrones vs. slasher Animation Apple TV+ MGM YouTube Premium kids A&E scene in color film series The Academy cartoon dragons elevated horror YouTube Red Black Mirror Pacific Islander adaptation Fall TV Pet Sematary VICE Anna Paquin The Arrangement Comic Book SundanceTV sag awards Awards Tour SXSW 2022 trailers ratings spain Writers Guild of America HBO Go Comedy Central japan boxing toy story worst USA LGBT DC streaming service VOD a nightmare on elm street IFC documentaries obituary Native Amazon Studios joker Lifetime Christmas movies space Logo 71st Emmy Awards TCA Awards WGN TNT hidden camera stoner theme song international TIFF Tags: Comedy Box Office zombie dogs Reality Competition political drama 2016 period drama TV One Universal Pictures docuseries directors posters superman Dark Horse Comics harry potter italian Interview mutant RT History christmas movies Pop TV name the review technology cancelled TV shows debate Oscar thriller Sneak Peek Comic-Con@Home 2021 2017 legend See It Skip It foreign The Purge Women's History Month The Witch Hulu football BBC One 45 cults casting Disney streaming service 72 Emmy Awards Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Oscars Geeked Week Reality Summer Mary Tyler Moore Winners ITV BET Winter TV strong female leads Spring TV singing competition scary boxoffice Western 73rd Emmy Awards BBC true crime Sundance TV action-comedy anthology canceled TV shows Esquire HBO Max Britbox Wes Anderson OneApp summer TV preview kong National Geographic First Reviews Syfy Best and Worst Avengers Horror Best Actor know your critic venice 24 frames broadcast rotten universal monsters DirecTV Paramount Pictures ghosts Marvel Studios dark Shondaland Calendar Focus Features ABC Discovery Channel police drama TV Land Starz Shudder Tokyo Olympics YouTube films zombies FOX cops king arthur crossover Chernobyl independent Classic Film 1990s DC Universe critics TruTV El Rey Rom-Com Tarantino dc Rocketman award winner olympics Food Network werewolf cancelled TV series TCA Winter 2020 royal family indie Cannes psychological thriller Pirates romantic comedy based on movie target scene in color rt labs critics edition james bond HBO leaderboard nature E! Awards what to watch justice league revenge witnail PaleyFest DGA canceled 2015 Sundance jamie lee curtis Crunchyroll Academy Awards Bravo ViacomCBS WarnerMedia Martial Arts art house chucky Family diversity anime genre Teen CW Seed laika Infographic Ellie Kemper Image Comics spider-man high school Film dreamworks Netflix crime thriller OWN Red Carpet suspense Crackle pirates of the caribbean 20th Century Fox historical drama 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Binge Guide Year in Review RT21 screen actors guild 99% gangster Star Trek MSNBC Kids & Family richard e. Grant Sony Pictures Neflix APB sequel TCA Baby Yoda PlayStation Watching Series Mystery 2018 rotten movies we love Hear Us Out transformers new zealand franchise zero dark thirty cats fresh serial killer book adaptation Super Bowl psycho Cosplay CNN comics new york stop motion mob Lifetime biography Columbia Pictures halloween tv Acorn TV E3 Comics on TV reviews video Quiz Toys critic resources Warner Bros. 21st Century Fox Valentine's Day Country vampires crime drama NBA Pride Month New York Comic Con crime Best Picture GLAAD hispanic south america dexter adenture Television Critics Association talk show stand-up comedy lord of the rings toronto Opinion Apple Superheroes Fox News 90s comic book movie Alien asian-american 94th Oscars Television Academy Superheroe mcc television TBS spinoff dceu doctor who Polls and Games Video Games BAFTA Captain marvel Sundance Now AMC Plus CBS hollywood Lucasfilm Sony Turner black streaming latino binge unscripted Action Ghostbusters screenings HFPA History IFC Films war archives scary movies Musical target superhero Schedule