Movie News & Reviews

Movie Mom: ‘Middle School,’ ‘Birth of a Nation,’ ‘Girl on the Train

Two young teens (Thomas Barbusca, left, and Griffin Gluck) fight the power in “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.”
Two young teens (Thomas Barbusca, left, and Griffin Gluck) fight the power in “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.” CBS Films

Information for parents deciding which movies are best for kids ages 2 to 18:

“Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life”

Why it’s rated PG: Schoolyard epithets, potty humor, references to death of a child and marital breakup, comically exaggerated adult villains, cartoon-style peril, tween misbehavior including driving and mild vandalism.

Minimum age: 9.

Family discussion: What is the best way to challenge unfair rules? What school rules would you like to change?

If you like this, try: “Harriet the Spy,” “How to Eat Fried Worms,” and the book series that inspired the film.

“The Birth of a Nation”

Why it’s rated R: Brutal slavery-related abuse including whipping, rape, beating and forced feeding, marital sexual situation with some nudity, strong and racist language.

Minimum age: Mature teens.

Family discussion: What made Nat Turner willing to take the risks of a rebellion? Why does this movie share the title of the famous D.W. Griffith silent film?

If you like this, try: “12 Years a Slave.”

“The Girl on the Train”

Why it’s rated R: A thriller that includes murder and attempted murder, peril and violence, sexual references and situations with nudity, very strong language, emotional fragility, alcohol abuse.

Minimum age: Mature teens.

Family discussion: What techniques does the film use to convey Rachel’s fragility and cognitive deficits? What fascinates her about Megan?

If you like this, try: “Gone Girl.”

Find Nell Minow’s reviews at Beliefnet on moviemom.com. Email: moviemom@moviemom.com.

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