Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance: TMNT, The Hundred-Foot Journey and More

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

by | August 8, 2014 | Comments

In Theaters This Week:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

21%

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

This live-action reboot of the franchise featuring modified, crime-fighting, pizza-eating turtles is a Michael Bay production. That means it’s essentially a Transformers movie, complete with shiny action sequences and destructive battles that place innocent bystanders in peril. The turtles themselves may be cute and cool and wacky in other incarnations but here, the special effects make them odd-looking in an off-putting way. Still, they emerge from the sewers to defend New York City, as is their duty, with the help of Megan Fox as an intrepid TV reporter. The enemy is a giant robot samurai named Shredder who resembles a Japanese Megatron. He’s working with a wealthy, villainous scientist (William Fichtner) who wants to rule the city by releasing a deadly toxin. There are explosions, lots of gunfire and general mayhem as a roaming group of marauders known as the Foot Clan terrorize the city and take hostages. I saw this movie with my son (who’s almost 5) and he was a bit frightened of Shredder, but only briefly.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

68%

Rating: PG, for thematic elements, some violence, language and brief sensuality.

Helen Mirren stars as the uptight owner of an elegant restaurant in the south of France. Om Puri plays the boisterous patriarch who moves his family into her quaint village and opens a new Indian restaurant directly across the street — 100 feet away, to be exact. Their competition, and the way they sabotage each other, is petty and cruel but amusing. And eventually — spoiler alert! — their rivalry leads to multicultural understanding. There are a couple of brief instances of violence — one in the beginning, one in the middle — in which vandals attack the Indian family’s restaurants, setting fire to them and even causing a death. But in both cases in director Lasse Hallstrom’s film, these are opportunities for rebuilding and redemption. Fine for kids around 10 and older.

Step Up: All In

42%

Rating: PG-13, for some language and suggestive material.

I’m guessing that the solitary, casually tossed F-bomb is the main reason that this fifth Step Up movie received a PG-13 rating. Otherwise, it’s pretty harmless as it offers one dance battle after another after another. This time, the action takes place at a competition in Las Vegas, with various characters from the previous films assembling and reassembling in different crews. The ultimate prize is a three-year deal performing at Caesars Palace. Maybe some of the dance moves are slightly and briefly risque — the thrusting, the suggestion of some sexual acts — but it all flies by at a dizzying pace. Even the dancers’ night out on the town is chaste. No smoking for these agile, muscular guys and gals, and even the drinking they do consists of a few glasses of celebratory champagne. Totally fine for kids around 8 or 9 and up.

New On DVD:

Divergent

41%

Rating: PG-13, for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality.

This is yet another movie based on a young adult novel set in a dystopian future where teenagers must fight each other for survival. Tweens who have read the book — and anyone familiar with this genre, really — will know what to expect in terms of violent situations and disturbing imagery. Still, because it’s rated PG-13, there’s very little blood to accompany the considerable body counts that accumulates. Shailene Woodley stars as Beatrice — or Tris, as she renames herself — a modest girl who faces the momentous task of deciding which of society’s five factions is the best fit for her. She chooses to join the Dauntless, which means a quick and demanding training regimen of shooting, fighting, throwing knives, climbing great heights and jumping from moving trains. But she also must defend herself against the competing initiates who are trying to take her down. It’s intense, dark stuff with a lengthy running time at two-plus hours.

Need For Speed

22%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language.

Aaron Paul’s first major role post-Breaking Bad finds him starring in this zippy, flashy action thriller in which a lot of cars get seriously mangled. Paul plays a small-town drag racer and mechanic who must compete in that tried-and-true one last race to redeem himself and save his family’s shop. It’s a high-stakes road challenge full of exotic sports cars, which inevitably causes some serious crashes. These adrenaline junkies knowingly put themselves in this dangerous situation — and some of them won’t survive — but they also subject untold innocent pedestrians and fellow drivers to their general disregard for human safety. Probably fine for viewers age 10 and up — but kids, don’t try this at home.