Parental Guidance

How Family-Friendly Are Aquaman and Bumblebee?

Film critic Christy Lemire breaks down what to expect if you're taking the whole fam to see the latest DCEU movie or the Transformers prequel.

by | December 21, 2018 | Comments

With a total of seven new films either opening in wide release or expanding from limited this weekend, it’s no surprise that at least three of them will be competing to draw in younger viewers. Of those three, two are rated PG-13, namely the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe and a prequel to the Transformers franchise. Both have gotten solid reviews, but exactly how much do each of them lean into that PG-13 rating? Christy Lemire offers the parental perspective on both, in case you’re in the mood to treat the family to a pre-Christmas big screen adventure.


Aquaman (2018) 65%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.

Over-the-top, underwater adventures abound in this insane DC Comics prequel from Furious 7 director James Wan. Jason Momoa stars as the titular superhero, a half-human, half-Atlantean living on the land who reluctantly accepts that he must take his place as heir to the throne of Atlantis in the sea. A multitude of obstacles lie in his path, including entire armies of men, sea creatures, and men riding on sea creatures. It’s knowingly silly and outlandish, but it can also be extremely violent. The hulking Momoa’s Arthur Curry takes on countless foes with his bare hands, flattening and flinging people across the room with ease. One scene finds Arthur and the Atlantean princess Mera (Amber Heard) fighting off a terrifying swarm of ravenous, sharp-toothed monsters. We also see several perilous chases, stabbings and a ton of gunfire from a variety of weapons. The script includes quite a bit of language, as well as some romantic tension and kissing between Arthur and Mera. It’s all the usual comic book movie stuff, but even more so – and that includes a running time that pushes 2 ½ hours. I’d say this is suitable for viewers around 10 and older, especially if they’ve seen other blockbusters like this before.

Bumblebee (2018) 92%

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

This is a shockingly good Transformers movie. It’s also the only good Transformers movie, but its joys aren’t merely relative. Director Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) has managed to find actual humanity within one of these behemoth action spectacles about robots in disguise, so much so that Bumblebee might even bring a tear or two to your eye. Set in 1987, the movie serves as an origin story for the good-natured, yellow Autobot who communicates through songs on the radio. The tomboyish, teenage Charlie (a charismatic Hailee Steinfeld) finds him as a beat-up Volkswagen Bug, brings him home and fixes him up. Once he reveals his true self, the two become fast friends (no pun intended). But Charlie and her smitten neighbor, Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), soon get sucked into the intergalactic battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. There’s quite a bit of rock ’em, sock ’em robot action here — giant, noisy, punishing brawls resulting in mass injury and destruction — but not as much as you’d ordinarily see in a Transformers movie. In a lot of ways, Bumblebee actually has more in common with E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial, especially as Charlie copes with the absence of her father by befriending a sweet alien being. I brought my 9-year-old son with me to a screening and we both loved it. I’d say this is fine for viewers around 8 or 9 and older; this is one of the rare occasions in which a PG-13 rating seems too harsh.

Tag Cloud

SundanceTV Women's History Month GIFs renewed TV shows RT History Spectrum Originals Emmys book Disney Plus WGN Opinion Tomatazos Set visit Valentine's Day CNN El Rey TNT Video Games dragons cops tv talk YouTube teaser kids political drama spy thriller San Diego Comic-Con Logo Brie Larson spanish language Superheroes WarnerMedia vampires Nominations Walt Disney Pictures cinemax true crime Tarantino period drama Ellie Kemper 21st Century Fox NYCC TV police drama game show X-Men Esquire Podcast BBC America Cosplay GoT IFC psycho LGBTQ crime thriller Creative Arts Emmys hist Countdown DC Comics TV Land witnail cancelled TV series Emmy Nominations Comedy Central Comedy HBO E3 The CW APB Bravo Universal Rom-Com BBC mutant Television Academy travel ESPN technology Ghostbusters CBS All Access Polls and Games Black Mirror zero dark thirty TruTV space Anna Paquin Character Guide Paramount Oscars Thanksgiving Calendar festivals Netflix Epix 45 Tumblr adventure award winner Premiere Dates sequel Year in Review BET Teen NBC ratings cooking ITV Film finale slashers GLAAD discovery cars USA social media E! Amazon Prime Star Wars Music DirecTV Photos Showtime Cannes cats Nat Geo diversity video Marvel Sundance Election Musical RT21 thriller USA Network Lifetime breaking bad disaster spinoff Stephen King Elton John Comic Book series streaming Quiz golden globes Chernobyl Paramount Network The Witch television war Fantasy Super Bowl MCU ABC Trailer Binge Guide Christmas anime Superheroe free movies Fox News CBS toy story Trivia zombie Disney elevated horror CMT science fiction VH1 comic unscripted Film Festival First Look Shondaland Sony Pictures Box Office casting zombies Fall TV Winners AMC First Reviews Reality Competition TCA 2017 Family Peacock spain medical drama blaxploitation dceu sitcom spider-man 24 frames TIFF cancelled television Chilling Adventures of Sabrina HBO Max animated American Society of Cinematographers foreign children's TV OWN Spring TV National Geographic jamie lee curtis Mary Tyler Moore TLC movies Mudbound 007 game of thrones singing competition TCM Pride Month YouTube Red The Arrangement Lucasfilm crossover cancelled quibi revenge PBS Freeform Action Shudder aliens CW Seed Drama MTV biography crime drama Masterpiece Rocketman romance Apple Pet Sematary Song of Ice and Fire Biopics doctor who Marathons Food Network Ovation Spike Interview TBS Rocky Mindy Kaling Comics on TV cults dc FOX docudrama sports based on movie miniseries 2018 historical drama Summer crime Rock FXX Captain marvel President Britbox Kids & Family The Purge theme song Toys Musicals FX New York Comic Con 2019 Trophy Talk 2017 Amazon latino 2016 joker DC Universe Martial Arts SXSW Apple TV+ Winter TV LGBT ghosts 71st Emmy Awards VICE Infographic richard e. Grant A&E Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt canceled The Walking Dead PaleyFest canceled TV shows Sci-Fi batman nature halloween Adult Swim 20th Century Fox Disney streaming service Best and Worst Star Trek Awards TV renewals Country anthology cancelled TV shows Sundance Now TCA History boxoffice Grammys Sneak Peek Schedule politics serial killer Mary poppins Lionsgate binge Cartoon Network Holidays Mary Poppins Returns facebook Red Carpet 2015 harry potter Pop Certified Fresh Watching Series Reality Acorn TV IFC Films Heroines comiccon YA south america adaptation Western stand-up comedy DC streaming service hispanic Extras mockumentary Hulu Amazon Prime Video Vudu supernatural Arrowverse MSNBC talk show Crackle Animation Pirates transformers DGA SDCC Pixar Horror green book Disney Channel natural history YouTube Premium Warner Bros. Starz Writers Guild of America composers robots dramedy Awards Tour Dark Horse Comics See It Skip It what to watch strong female leads Mystery Columbia Pictures psychological thriller Syfy justice league Nickelodeon ABC Family