Four Kids and It (PG)


Age 8+

Magical family adventure has positive messages, mild peril.

Four Kids and It” is a sweet magical adventure based on Jacqueline Wilson’s children’s book “Four Children and It.” Full of positive messages and life lessons, it’s about smart, compassionate kids who understand that you don’t need materialistic objects to enjoy life. Though they disobey their divorced parents’ wishes and leave town without permission — and argue with them frequently — over time, they understand that their parents can find love again. The primary antagonist, Tristan (Russell Brand), does pose a threat, though he’s presented as a caricatured mustache-twirling villain. He intimidates the children with a gun in one scene, and they use their powers in self-defense to throw him against a wall. There’s also a moment when he catches fire, and there’s some dangerous driving, too. But in the end, themes of curiosity, self-control and teamwork are clear.
(110 minutes)

Available June 30 on various streaming platforms.

My Spy (PG-13)


Age 10+

Funny but formulaic action comedy has violence, language.

My Spy’ is a spy comedy starring Dave Bautista as JJ, a CIA agent who ends up befriending a precocious 9-year-old girl (Chloe Coleman) while surveilling her family. Although it’s targeted at tweens, it has more strong language than you might expect, including “s---,” “d---,” “b----,” “a--” and “Jesus Christ.” The violence is also a bit too intense for really young kids: Expect scenes of shootouts, stabbings, attacks, threats, explosions and even a quick glimpse of a decapitated head (though that scene is more comical than horrifying). A child is in danger in climactic scenes. There’s a bit of romance and some ogling of JJ; adults drink wine with dinner. While the movie offers a racially diverse cast and themes of courage, communication and teamwork, characters also deceive each other, and some characters and jokes are based in stereotypes about the LGBTQ community. (101 minutes)

Available on Amazon Prime Video.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (PG-13)


Age 13+

Uneven spoof has swearing, comic violence, sexual humor.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” is a broad comedy starring Will Ferrell. It focuses on the annual Eurovision Song Contest, a hugely popular European musical competition established in 1956. As he did in “Blades of Glory” (ice skating) and “Anchorman” (TV news), Ferrell again plays a buffoonish character who wreaks havoc and unleashes stereotypes for big laughs. You can expect the usual outrageously silly “violence”: a knifing, a tragic boat explosion with the requisite severed arm, falls and upended portable toilets. Humor is also based in sexual jokes, innuendo, LGBTQ cliches and a preoccupation with penis size (with visuals of nude statues). Characters kiss and wake up in bed with one another in maybe-they-did-or-maybe-they-didn’t moments. Strong language includes “s---,” “goddamn,” “crap,” “ding-dong” and other euphemisms for penis, plus “f---” and “balls.” Adults drink in multiple scenes, with one instance of vomiting from drunkenness.
(124 minutes)

Available on Netflix.

Beats (Unrated)


Age 16+

Scottish indie about ’90s rave scene has cursing, drug use.

Beats” — an excellent Scottish dramedy about the ’90s illegal rave scene in Britain — includes lots of drug use by teens and adults. At the center of the story are two friends, Johnno (Cristian Ortega) and Spanner (Lorn Macdonald), who attend their first illegal rave. Characters take ecstasy pills and are shown enjoying themselves with no negative consequences. They also drink regularly, and many of the characters also smoke. In one scene, a character is driving down a freeway while under the influence of drugs and almost crashes the car. Expect strong language throughout, including “c--t” and variants of “f---.” Local Scottish slang is also prominent. There’s also some shocking violence. Spanner’s drug-dealing brother, Fido (Neil Leiper), pushes Spanner’s face toward a hot stovetop. Another character is hit over the head with a lava lamp after a fight breaks out. And during an illegal rave, Johnno is beaten by a policeman, leaving him with a bruised back and bloodied face. Despite the mature themes, there’s a warmth and tenderness to the movie, with friendship at the heart of it. (101 minutes)

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