If you are looking for family movie reviews for parents, this is the place. Crunchy Reviews provides parental movie reviews for kids being raised by parents who care what their children are exposed to. Parent movie reviews, by parents as concerned as you; movie reviews children and their parents can rely on to help them avoid content that is inappropriate for their family. And check out our book reviews, too!

Inkheart

      The movie Inkheart, which is shockingly rated 'PG', should be rated at least PG-13. It is goulish, and gruesome, with slavery, weapons, violence, and monsters galore.
             Review Type: Live Action,Movies, Posted by:

The movie Inkheart, which is shockingly rated ‘PG’, should be rated at least PG-13. It is goulish, and gruesome, with slavery, weapons, violence, and monsters galore.

The premise – which has so much promise – is that there are certain people in this world who can read a story into reality – that is, when they read aloud, the characters from the book enter our world. At the same time, a person from our world gets swapped into the book. Mo (Brendan Frasier) is one of these readers, and he’s learned about his ‘gift’ (curse) the hard way – when, while reading the book Inkheart to his young daughter, characters from the story came into our world, and Mo’s wife was swapped into the book. Of course, the characters from Inkheart are, for the most part, evil and malicious, and hell-bent on world domination.

In the end, good vanquishes evil, but there is a lot of scary, eerie, and occasionally gory action (such as when a coffin is thrown open to reveal a partially decaying corpse) along the way, with tons of implied violence.

I personally wish I hadn’t even seen this movie, and I definitely feel that a PG-13 rating would have been far more appropriate than the misleading ‘PG’ rating.

The Kid Says:

I disagree that this movie should be rated PG-13. Umm, the Shadow would be somewhat creepy for little kids, and make sure that they don’t get attached to Toto.

inkheart


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The Princess and the Frog

      Why is it that Disney insists on always, always, always killing off one of their main characters in just about every children's movie? As if children's feelings aren't jerked around enough just by the fact of growing and learning, do we really ...
             Review Type: Animated,Movies, Posted by:

Why is it that Disney insists on always, always, always killing off one of their main characters in just about every children’s movie? As if children’s feelings aren’t jerked around enough just by the fact of growing and learning, do we really have to subject them to getting attached to a character only to have it killed off? (Or seeing a parent figure get killed, as in Bambi, and The Lion King?)

The Princess and the Frog is no different. You may as well know right up front that the character of Ray, the lightning bug – who is definitely a main character with whom your children will connect – gets killed off. And it’s very sad.

Beyond the sadness of the death of Ray, there are many scary scenes. I mean, really scary. The witch doctor is in touch with the underworld, and conjures up all manner of shadowy demons to chase down the hero and heroine. In addition, the witch doctor has an amulet that requires the blood of the prince, and there are a couple of scenes of him getting that blood.

In all, this is not a movie for young children, despite – or maybe because of – it being a Disney movie.

The adults in our family enjoyed this movie, but knowing what we know now, we would never take a child younger than, say, 7 or 8, to see this movie.

The Kid Says:

Children under the age of 8 should not see this movie because there is too much creepiness in it. Also towards the scene where the witch doctor is about to kill Ray I would recommend pointing behind you and saying to your child “Look! A popcorn fight” and covering their ears, so they don’t see and hear Ray getting killed.

the-princess-and-the-frog


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Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

      We were really looking forward to seeing Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and for the most part we weren't disappointed. However there are some scenes that were entirely inappropriate, and language that was disappointing, neither of which were necessary to the ...
             Review Type: Live Action,Movies, Posted by:

We were really looking forward to seeing Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and for the most part we weren’t disappointed. However there are some scenes that were entirely inappropriate, and language that was disappointing, neither of which were necessary to the plot and both of which considerably reduced our enjoyment of the movie.

The movie itself is formulaic, relying heavily on the same plot as the last Alvin and the Chipmunks – but that in itself was not surprising. What’s new is the introduction of three singing girl chipmunks – the Chipettes – what’s old is that the morally-bankrupt Ian Hawke is bent on exploiting and mistreating the Chipettes, right down to locking them in a cage just as he did the Chipmunks in the last movie. This time there is the added element of Hawke plotting revenge – against three rodents? Give us a break.

All this occurs while Dave is in the hospital following an accident with which the movie opens – in the scene in the hospital, Dave looks horrific, and it may frighten (or repulse) some younger children.

The other plot line, which is intertwined with Hawke’s attempt to claw his way back to the top by exploiting the chipmunk girl group, is that the Chipmunks get sent to high school. And they get bullied. A lot. There are scenes of one or the other of the chipmunks getting thrown across a room and smashed into a wall, hit with balls (which smash them into the wall), and dunked headfirst into the toilet (known as a “swirlie”).

There are also numerous “butt” references. Of course, ‘butt’ has become a widely-used and generally accepted part of our cultural vernacular, but we still find it offensive, and we know that many of our readers do as well.

But the scene that we found the most offensive and disgusting (the bullying scenes aside) was the one where Theodore, alone and scared after having a nightmare, asks to crawl in bed with Toby (Dave’s nephew, who is house-sitting while Dave is in the hospital recouperating). Theodore crawls in under the blankets, at which point Toby lets go a very loud emission of gas, then rolls over and blocks Theodore from being able to escape from under the blankets, leading to several minutes of Theodore choking and gagging and crying “oh no, the Dutch oven!” before he finally escapes, gasping for air. It was entirely disgusting.

For the above reasons, we are leaving the “do we recommend this movie” unchecked – because we would recommend it if it weren’t for those scenes; on the other hand, had we been forewarned, we might still have gone to see it, but not without discussing it with our child first.

The Kid Says:

This movie is not good for little kids. It seems as if there is too much romance going on for toddlers. There is a disgusting scene involving “dutch ovens”?!?!?!

alvin-and-the-chipmunks-the-squeakquel


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Old Dogs

      The mainstream reviews of Old Dogs, starring Robin Williams and John Travolta, have been extremely mixed. This is a movie that reviewers either really don't like, or really do. Put us in the latter camp.
             Review Type: Live Action,Movies, Posted by:

The mainstream reviews of Old Dogs, starring Robin Williams and John Travolta, have been extremely mixed. This is a movie that reviewers either really don’t like, or really do. Put us in the latter camp.

Yes, the movie is pretty formulaic, but let’s face it, when you are taking your kids to the movie, you want it to be somewhat predictable, so that you can know what you are getting into, and what to expect, before exposing your child to the movie.

There are thematic elements that some parents may want to avoid, particularly for younger children. Almost out of the box the concept of divorce is introduced – Robin Williams’ character was divorced, and then almost immediately remarried on the rebound during a wild, drunken weekend in Miami – that marriage was annulled 24 hours later.

This is the set-up for the main premise of the movie – Robin Williams, who with partner Travolta runs a very high-powered sports marketing firm and is in a high-pressure position, finds out, 7 years after the annulment, that his honeymoon night resulted in twins. And now mom, who has to serve two weeks at a minimum security facility for civil disobedience (protesting toxic dumping near where her children play), needs someone to watch the children.

Old Dogs is chock full of sight-gags and physical comedy. Surprisingly little of it is actually crude, but there is some crudity. Williams has to take his son (they are boy/girl twins) to the mens’ room for the first time, and you see the son (upper half only) seated in a stall with Williams there, and you hear the son passing gas (just once, thank goodness not the extended-play version that so often passes for comedy these days). In a scene where Williams is golfing with some potential clients, he ends up backstroking the golf ball into someone’s crotch – several times. And in a funny (in part because it’s mercifully short) scene, the son instant messages with the prospective client (who thinks it’s Williams or Travolta) and uses the word “poop”. And, oh yes, the very aged dog pees while walking.

Early into the movie there is a scout camping trip, during which there is skeet shooting, and Williams accidentally shoots the head off a statue. Also during the camping trip there is a veiled reference to someone thinking that Williams and Travolta are a gay couple, but frankly it will go over the heads of any child who isn’t already aware of or sensitive to the subject.

In truth, the worst part of the movie is that the beloved dog passes away. You can see it coming a mile away, which is good, because you can warn your child before the moment is upon them.

I really have to give the producer and director credit – the moments of crudity are fleeting (all too rare in PG movies these days) and because of that they are more funny (or less unfunny). And that makes Old Dogs acceptable and even enjoyable.

In fact, Old Dogs is a very sweet movie, that is, above all, about a father learning how to relate to children, connecting with his children, and realizing how much more rewarding being a parent is than being a tycoon.

We were surprised at how much we enjoyed it, and we recommend it for anyone for whom the above is acceptable.

old dogs


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Planet 51

      I liked Planet 51 much more than I'd imagined that I would. In fact, we're going to see it again tomorrow, and I am looking forward to it. That said, I wouldn't take a child of below 9 or 10 to ...
             Review Type: Animated,Movies, Posted by:

I liked Planet 51 much more than I’d imagined that I would. In fact, we’re going to see it again tomorrow, and I am looking forward to it. That said, I wouldn’t take a child of below 9 or 10 to see it, at least not without some serious prepping. There are plenty of weaponful scenes, shooting, and some crude humour.

The violence is about on par with the violence in Monsters vs. Aliens, only there is a lot more shooting.

The opening scene shows a couple parked on a Lookout Point sort of romantic overlook, and suddenly an alien spaceship lands, and they find themselves caught in a gun battle between the alien and a military group. It turns out that what we are watching is a scene from a movie that is being played in a movie theatre on Planet 51, but that doesn’t diminish the violence of the scene.

There are lots of violent scenes throughout the movie; not surprising, really, as the premise is that an alien whom the Planet 51ians believe to be violent has landed on their planet – that alien is the human astronaut, Chuck Baker.

In one of the most violent scenes, the entire military shoots and eventually electrocutes each other (although nobody dies, and in fact the scene is quite silly and funny – but it is still very violent).

The incidents of crude humour are not frequent, but they are indeed crude. One character offers another a cork, to be used to protect him against the probing that is sure to come from the alien – in case there is any doubt where the cork should go, the character looks down at his backside. He then realizes that the cork he’s handed to his friend is one that he’s “already used” (yuck).

In another scene, a group of Planet 51 residents observe Chuck Baker dropping a sheet – and it is clear that this has left Baker standing stark naked facing them – and they all stare at his nether regions, mouth open, until one says “That’s a funny place for an antenna.”

There is also a great deal of tension around “Rover”, which is a small space exploration device that comes across as a dog, complete with a cute doggie personality and doggie movements and emotions. In short, it’s a dog. And so when Rover is captured, bullied, and treated cruely, even the adults in the audience were audibly sighing, gasping, and cringing.

In the end, it all works out in one big happy, feel-good ball of goofiness and morals. And in between, it has some very funny moments. Which is why we do recommend the movie, and why we are going to see it again – but this is definitely a movie where one should know up front what they are going to see.

planet-51


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Where the Wild Things Are

      I had high hopes for the movie Where the Wild Things Are, as the previews were awesome. So, sadly, we were really disappointed - the movie was much darker (thematically, not illumination-wise) then I'd expected, and it left me feeling that it ...
             Review Type: Live Action,Movies, Posted by:

I had high hopes for the movie Where the Wild Things Are, as the previews were awesome. So, sadly, we were really disappointed – the movie was much darker (thematically, not illumination-wise) then I’d expected, and it left me feeling that it was not so much a children’s movie as it was an allegorical dissertation on the human condition and family dysfunction, thinly veiled as a cinematic representation of a beloved children’s book.

There are definitely some moments in the movie that are simply too intense for children – such as when a character’s arm gets ripped off (and is then replaced with a twig), and you think that some beloved owls are killed (although it turns out that they aren’t). A “dirt fight” (think snowball fight, only with clods of dirt) goes from fun to earnest, mean, and violent. And a wild thing swallows Max whole in order to hide him – he isn’t hurt, but he almost suffocates, and comes out very slimey.

There is a lot of anger, a lot of acting out, threats, and the perception of violence. Most of this occurs among the wild things (both directed towards each other and, at times, towards the human boy Max) but Max has his moments too, and he actually bites his mother before running away (which is not how it plays out in the book).

Again, there is a lot of darkness in the movie, and in general, if you have a child who is sensitive to anger, threats, or the perception of violence, or if you simply don’t want to expose your child to the darker side of family relationships, you may want to skip Where the Wild Things Are.

where-the-wild-things-are


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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

      We had really looked forward to this movie. The book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is an old family favorite, which we've read - repeatedly - with both of our children. From the previews, we know that the movie of ...
             Review Type: Animated,Movies, Posted by:

We had really looked forward to this movie. The book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is an old family favorite, which we’ve read – repeatedly – with both of our children. From the previews, we know that the movie of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was going to be very different from the book, but we were still looking forward to it, with the knowledge that it would be different but seemed like it would stand on its own.

Unfortunately, there were many scenes that not only weren’t in the book (not unexpected) but which were rude, disgusting, or even violent (which was unexpected).

For example, in one scene, a sardine which had been trapped inside a large exhibit is freed, and flying through the air, so happy to be free, with a cute smile in its face, it’s suddenly snatched by a bird.

After an ice cream blizzard, kids devour a snowman, with only the nose and eyes left on the ground, which may be disturbing for some younger children, and we are informed that those things that the monkey is throwing are not actually chocolate snowballs (eeww).

In a few other scenes, you see one of the characters dropping whole dead fish into a meat grinder, with them coming out as fish paste on the other end.

There is a scene of Mount Rushmore being inundated with food, and Lincoln’s eyes, nose and mouth suddenly have goo spewing out of them – the image is pretty disturbing.

There are also a few instances of rear end humor (and I use the term loosely), such as an adult character, who has just had a scare, stating “I’m glad that I’m wearing a diaper”, and at one point the police officer (a very buff character who continually show off feats of impossible strength and agility) features in a closeup shot of his – how can I say this delicately – strongly clenching his buttocks.

There is also a scene where the monkey sticks his hand inside a large living gummy bear, and pulls out its heart (ala Indiana Jones) and eats it.

But perhaps the most disturbing scene of all is when the main characters are surrounded by human-sized headless chicken carcasses, walking on their drumsticks. One of them swallows one of the characters whole, and later the character takes over the body of the chicken, so he has become a walking chicken carcass with the character’s head.

We were extremely disappointed by this scenes, especially as they were – none of them – in any way necessary to the scenes, the plot, or, indeed, the entertainment factor.


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Aliens in the Attic

      Aliens in the Attic has a funny gimmick: aliens using video game controllers to control humans (they first have to shoot a mind control plug into the back of the human's neck, and it only works on adults). Unfortunately, while this allows ...
             Review Type: Live Action,Movies, Posted by:

Aliens in the Attic has a funny gimmick: aliens using video game controllers to control humans (they first have to shoot a mind-control plug into the back of the human’s neck, and it only works on adults).

Unfortunately, while this allows for some very funny scenes, it also is the basis for a great deal of violence, along with the alien-versus-children violence which abounds, in both directions. Sure, the aliens are knee-high, but they are armed, and definitely dangerous. And, towards the end, they get enlarged many-fold and become very scary giants.

Bottom line: this is not a movie for children under the age of, say, 13, and even then only if you are ok with a lot of violence and weapons. And even then, be prepared to see what appears to be a 20-something man engaged in a very violent fight with grandma.

The one saving grace for this movie is that it does have a strong message that it’s cool to be the smart, nerdy math geek. We liked that. But not enough to recommend the movie for anyone under 13.


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Shorts

      Shorts was pretty much exactly what you'd expect from the previews (whether you think that's a plus or a negative), with the added layer of a contrivance that we - including the child with us, found really annoying: the story is told ...
             Review Type: Live Action,Movies, Posted by:

Shorts was pretty much exactly what you’d expect from the previews (whether you think that’s a plus or a negative), with the added layer of a contrivance that we – including the child with us – found really annoying: the story is told in a series of “shorts” (hence the title), telling the story in chunks that are out of sequence. What the heck? We all agreed that it would have been far more enjoyable had the story been told in chronological order.

There is some mild language, and “affectionate” name calling between friends, but by far the biggest issues in the movie are the scenes of bullying, which include both the main character getting regularly picked up and stuffed head-first into a garbage can, and a scene where one of the bullies eats the main character’s favourite goldfish (which is subsequently saved by the tiny aliens getting it to pop out of her mouth).

Running a close second, though, are the scenes which may be too intense for younger children, such as the alligators marching to attack the kids, the man being transformed into a giant Transformer-like monster, and the mob fight scene that breaks out during a party.

Oh, and don’t get us started on an entire segment devoted to “The Booger Monster”, in which a child picks his nose, and sticks the mucus into his scientist father’s matter conversion chamber, causing the mucus to mutate into a 6-foot “Booger monster” that tries to eat the family (he is bested when the same child picks his nose again and threatens to eat the Booger monster’s “friend”). Yuck.

Don’t get us wrong – there are some cute moments – even some funny ones. But they are not funny or cute enough – and certainly not good enough – to overcome the bad.


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Bedtime Stories

      I was absolutely disgusted by Bedtime Stories, a movie that I had been told by someone whose judgement I (once) trusted, was completely appropriate.
             Review Type: Live Action,Movies, Posted by:

I was absolutely disgusted by Bedtime Stories, a movie that I had been told by someone whose judgement I (once) trusted, was completely appropriate.

I, however, don’t think that having a character named “Sir Buttkiss”, who “will kiss the butt of anybody” is approriate. Nor do I think that closeups of a horse passing gas, watching someone drop kick a creature (a goblin), watching a dwarf kick the main character, having a grownup tell kids “I’ll always be there like the stink on your feet”, or having the sexy blonde invite the main character into the hot tub with champagne are appropriate.

And that’s before we talk about the (fantasy) western scene where he draws his pistol, and shoots someone.

The final scene includes fighting, a strange weapon that extends an arm and slaps the opponent across the face several times, yells of “Kick his butt” and someone being slimed by the “Booger monster.”

It’s a shame, because the premise had promise, but rather than take the high ground the producer went for cheap, sophomoric laughs, and in the doing rendered the movie completely unacceptable.

Bedtime Stories


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