Hollywood continues to churn out reboots, sequels, and remakes; this time, it’s a slightly updated take on the classic Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones buddy-cop movie-with-a-twist, Men in Black. It doesn’t stray too far from the formula of the original, but if you have fond memories of that 1997 outing, you could do worse.
But should you take your kids to see it?
As parents and film fans, we want to share the best of the cinematic world with our kids. But when you haven’t seen a new movie yet, how do you know if you should take your kids? Obviously every kid is different, and they change with age; the same child who had to be escorted, weeping, out of Guardians of the Galaxy might completely fall in love with Deadpool two years later (true story). But it’s also true that movie marketing can be misleading – no-one wants to be that mom who had to leave Pan’s Labyrinth with an emotionally-scarred 10-year-old. With this ongoing feature, we’ll aim to offer some loose, spoiler-free, age-by-age guidelines as to what parents might expect from new features marketed to families, so you can make the best judgment call for your youngsters.
In this reboot, rookie Agent M (Tessa Thompson) is learning the alien-wrangling ropes under the somewhat off-book, reckless tutelage of veteran Agent H (Chris Hemsworth). The plot is fairly standard for the franchise: there’s an alien threat, the agents must stop it, adventures and fights and light banter along the way — you know the drill. For a full review, click here.
I will say this, it’s very refreshing to see a MiB that isn’t a sausage fest. As a parent of daughters, I love that there’s finally a female holding her own as a lead. What I don’t love is that the writers felt it necessary to shoehorn in a workplace crush. Thompson and Hemsworth already have chemistry that’s off the charts, as anyone who’s seen Thor: Ragnarok can tell you; I wish they’d chosen to focus on the growing trust and friendship between the leads, as in the original with Smith and Jones. Not every male-female pairing must include longing glances.
What the film does have going for it is lots of really cool-looking CGI aliens, plenty of chase scenes and fights, and space-age weaponry. If your family is in the mood for a diverting, action-packed flick that won’t make you think too hard, this fits the bill.
So, should you take your kids to see it?
YMMV, but be warned: a couple of unnamed characters are killed by the evil aliens in a pretty scary way, leaving a graphically gory corpse for our heroes to find. If your kid is easily spooked by that sort of thing, maybe give this a pass. That said, those scenes are brief, and there are also some super-cute aliens in the mix, including a mini voiced by Kumail Nanjiani that is sure to be a favourite with the younger set.
Tweens and Teens
This seems squarely aimed at exactly this audience. The plot isn’t too complicated, there’s lots of action and some passably witty banter, and really the whole thing is just a fun and forgettable ride that older kids will probably be charmed by just as we olds were by the original.
There’s not really a lot to unpack here. Towards the end, the film reaches for a kind of emotional resonance but doesn’t stick the landing. You’d be safe to nod off mid-movie and let the kids enjoy the rest.
Wee time: Your best bet is right after the big battle on the streets of London, when the scene is crawling with other agents in the immediate aftermath. You’ll miss some expository dialogue, but nothing that isn’t repeated later.
Bottom line: It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s fun. Go on, treat yo’self.
Jenny Bullough is a movie fan and mom based in Toronto. She has missed the middle 5 minutes of every kids’ movie because of her kid’s small bladder, and she let her kids watch Deadpool at an inappropriately young age and stands by her choices.