As we head into summer, a prime time for kids to go to the movies, how do you decide what to take them to see? I recently went to “Avengers: Endgame” and the Friday night screening in Montrose was full of families. There was a baby that cried through the only quiet moment of the film — the sad opening. All around me were kids eating candy and drinking huge sodas, which make it impossible for them to sit still during the three-hour run time. How could they? What were their parents thinking? How do you decide if your kids would appreciate or understand a film and if it’s appropriate for them?
Three films with brightly colored posters that would appeal to kids — “Little,” “Dumbo” and “Shazam!” — also feature kids or child-like characters. The trailers make the films appear light-hearted and fun. Are they films for your kids to see?
One clue would be in the ratings. Both “Little” and “Shazam!” are rated PG-13. “Dumbo” is rated PG.
If you’re an avid moviegoer, you’re likely to have seen the trailers for most films before they’re released, though maybe not at the Nugget Theatre. Trailers can be misleading and aren’t going to show you the questionable moments (sex or violence) that you might not want your kids exposed to yet. Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org) is an online rating system that can help parents access the film’s content.
What about reviews? Some film critics will give a nod to parents, especially for films that are aimed at teens. Without giving spoilers, it’s not too hard to let parents know when a film might have scenes that might be too scary, violent or contain sexual content. As a grown-up who still finds violence, especially involving children, too much for my psyche, I like to point it out. I also find some monsters and situations frightening even in kid’s film and I try to make that clear for parents of sensitive kids. Films that give your kids nightmares can turn a fun outing into a week of sleepless nights.
I wanted to be able to give this film a great review. The acting is great across the cast with a remarkable young star, Marsai Martin. The story is a reimagining of the plot of “Big” told from an African American woman’s perspective. A successful, driven businesswoman learns life lessons when she’s transformed into a young girl with sass and a take-no-prisoners attitude. A black cast of mainly women, the young star is also the producer of the film, a black woman director, Tina Gordon. I wanted this film to be great. It’s not. It’s funny in sections and with a message about friendship being as important as success at work. It also presents an image of a corporate woman that’s shrill, mean and selfish. There are some sex scenes played for laughs with the very funny Regina Hall taking her pleasure and then falling right to sleep; a role-reversal of how a boorish man might behave. Be aware that there’s some frank sex talk and a brief scene of bondage that may not be appropriate for a pre-teen.
Drinks with Films rating: 2 juice boxes out of 5
Here we have a similar transformation story. “Shazam!” is about a boy who turns into a superhero. I enjoyed the well-realized foster family plot, and this film has some funny and touching moments. The interactions between Zachary Levin as the superhero with the mind of a boy and his pal played by Jack Dylan Grazer are a lot of fun. Mark Strong is a demented bad guy, but if you have kids who don’t like monsters the creatures that are unleashed have one very scary scene. Mostly they look fake and CGI in a campy way with silly fight scenes, save that one scene.
Drinks with Films rating: 2 Slurpees out of 5
An almost seamless integration of CGI and live action, this is an interesting depiction of the classic children’s book. The live actors seem as CGI as the elephant — these are broad portrayals. It’s fun to see Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito, Michael Keaton and Eva Green playing these characters, even if the characters are almost cartoons. The circus costumes are hardly distinguished from the street clothes — both a little over the top. The young actress, Nico Parker, with her large expressive eyes, steals the show. There are some sad moments and frank talk of death, but most kids will know the story. Some of the scenes of the family in peril might be distressing for little ones. The plot sags in a few stretches and young kids may get bored but overall it’s a good family film.
Drinks with Films rating: 2 circus lemonades (a little on the sweet side) out of 5
A great wrap-up to the series of “Avenger” films, this is not for children! Though most of the violence is in the battle scenes, the deaths of some of the lead characters are filmed more realistically and there’s some sword violence that’s brutal. I, myself, didn’t feel the three-hour running time was exhausting. There were so many characters from so many other films that it seemed justified.
Drinks with Films rating: 4 supersized sodas out of 5