Movie News & Reviews

Movie Mom: ‘Kubo,’ ‘Ben-Hur,’ ‘Hell or High Water,’ ‘War Dogs,’ ‘Sausage Party’

In “Kubo and the Two Strings” a boy is on a quest.
In “Kubo and the Two Strings” a boy is on a quest. Focus Features

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

“Kubo and the Two Strings”

Why it’s rated PG: Fantasy-style peril and violence with monsters and magic, sad death of parents.

Minimum age: 8.

Family discussion: Why did Kubo answer his grandfather’s questions the way he did? Why didn’t Monkey tell Kubo where she came from? Why did the two strings make a difference?

If you like this, try: “Coraline,” “Paranorman” and “The Boxtrolls.”


Why it’s rated PG-13: Intense and sometimes graphic peril and violence, many characters injured and killed, battle scenes, whipping, abuse, crucifixions, some disturbing images, brief non-explicit sexual situation and mild sexual references.

Minimum age: High school.

Family discussion: What changed Ben-Hur’s mind about Messala? Was Ben-Hur right to try to make peace with the Romans? What did Pilate mean when he said, “They’re Romans now”?

If you like this, try: “Risen” and the 1959 version of “Ben-Hur.”

“Hell or High Water”

Why it’s rated R: Extended crime and law enforcement-related violence, characters injured and killed, themes of moral and legal crimes, drinking, smoking, sexual references, prostitute, brief explicit sexual situation.

Minimum age: Mature teens.

Family discussion: Why does the movie keep some of the details of the plan secret for so long? Why does Marcus insult Alberto? Why does Tanner say he is a Comanche?

If you like this, try: “99 Homes” and “The Newton Boys.”

“War Dogs”

Why it’s rated R: Wartime and crime-related peril and violence including automatic weapons, war profiteering, constant very strong language, crude and explicit sexual references, non-explicit situations, drinking, drugs.

Minimum age: Mature teens.

Family discussion: When and why did David and Efraim make different choices? What was their biggest mistake? Were they appropriately punished?

If you like this, try: “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

“Sausage Party”

Why it’s rated R: Material that would be rated NC-17 in a live-action film including constant very strong and crude language, very crude and explicit sexual references and situations, violence with some graphic and disturbing images, drugs.

Minimum age: Adults.

Family discussion: What point is this movie making about the origins and purpose of religion? What references to other animated films did you notice?

If you like this, try: “This Is the End” and “Superbad.”

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