Democracy Dies in Darkness

Movies

What to watch with your kids: ‘Dog Days,’ ‘The Darkest Minds’ and more

August 8, 2018 at 7:00 PM

Dog Days (PG)

Age 12+

Positive message amid language, pot humor in canine comedy.

Dog Days” is an ensemble comedy about people in Los Angeles whose lives are intertwined and improved by dogs (it’s very reminiscent of Garry Marshall’s holiday-themed movies like “Mother’s Day”). It’s been marketed as a family film, but some of the content isn’t appropriate for younger kids, including gratuitous strong language (“a--hole,” “damn,” and punchlines that imply the use of “sh--,” even though it’s not exactly said) and a pot brownie plot point that’s played for laughs, with no negative consequences. Some of the story lines are sweet, such as a new family being formed through adoption and the development of an intergenerational, interracial friendship. Several stories involve dating and romance; be ready for innuendo, implied sexual situations and discussion about reproduction. And although the film is full of smiles, there may be some sad sobs, too, since (spoiler alert!) a dog dies. But the pro-pup message is very strong, and the diverse cast (including Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Finn Wolfhard, Jessica St. Clair and Adam Pally) has broad appeal. (118 minutes)

The Darkest Minds
(PG-13)

Age 13+

Skilled actors can’t save derivative, violent YA thriller.

The Darkest Minds” is an action thriller based on the first book in author Alexandra Bracken’s best-selling young adult series about a world in which most children and teens have died of a fatal virus. Rare survivors emerged with mysterious superpowers, including enhanced intelligence, telekinesis, mind control and fire-starting. Starring Amandla Stenberg, the movie is fairly violent, with a high body count that includes many children and teens, as well as some adults (who in some cases are compelled via mind control to injure/kill themselves). There’s also a scene in which a girl erases herself from her parents’ memories and another in which a 20-something man tries to sexually assault a 16-year-old girl. There’s some romance, but because of a power that works skin-to-skin, it mostly consists of longing looks, one slow dance and an eventual big kiss. Fans of the book will want to check out the movie, even if there are some major differences, as always, between the text and the screen versions. (103 minutes)

Jason Statham stars in the shark thriller “The Meg.” (Daniel Smith/Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Meg (PG-13)

Age 14+

Lots of shark-movie cliches and violence, not many thrills.

The Meg” is an action movie about a giant prehistoric shark and the team of heroes (led by Jason Statham) trying to stop it. Violence is definitely the biggest issue here: Many characters die, and there’s some blood (wounds, blood swirling in the water). And of course, there are shark attacks (often sudden/startling) — plus lots of explosions and tons of destruction and carnage. Many dead, mangled sharks and other sea creatures are shown, a woman is accidentally stabbed with a screwdriver, and a young girl is briefly in peril. Language is infrequent but includes “sh--,” “son of a b----,” “b------” and others. Statham’s character, Jonas, appears shirtless, and there’s a bit of flirting. He’s also accused of drinking too much and is shown holding or opening bottles of beer early in the movie. Some nonwhite characters are portrayed somewhat cartoonishly. Shark fans are likely to be interested, but be warned: It’s clumsy, slow and lacks genuine scares. (113 minutes)

Liza on Demand (TV-14)

Streaming

Age 14+

YouTuber tries to thrive in gig economy in comedy series.

Liza on Demand” is a teen-oriented comedy series starring YouTube celebrity Liza Koshy about a young woman who is struggling to get her career in order. The fictional Liza spends her time running around trying to make money by driving for Uber, being an Instagram shopper and working other app-centered part-time jobs. While the show is pretty much for teens, it has some strong sexual innuendo (including crude references) as well as cursing (the f-bomb is bleeped). Wine drinking is commonplace, too. Logos for Apple and Uber are visible, and Instagram, Twitter and lots of other app-driven businesses are referenced. (Eight approximately 25-minute episodes)

Available via YouTube Premium streaming.

Common Sense Media helps families make smart media choices. Go to commonsensemedia.org for age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites and books.

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