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A parents' guide to ‘Skyscraper’: Be cautious with pre-teens

A popular megastar opens a new film this weekend that is sure to draw families, and likely to leave everyone smiling. That movie is Adam Sandler’s “Hotel Transylvania 3.” Also opening is the newest film from ever-likable Dwayne Johnson, a PG-13, “Die Hard”-meets-“Towering Inferno” action flick called “Skyscraper.” As one might expect, it’s a blast of summer insanity -- but inappropriate for children.

That could cause some family controversy. Kids adore the star of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” and minus the occasional “Baywatch,” parents consider him safe and reliable. Make no mistake, though, “Skyscraper” is a hard PG-13 and not suitable for ages younger than 13.

What’s the storyline? A security expert is hired to gauge the safety of the world’s tallest building, in Hong Kong. But he is soon forced into action to save his family from the burning skyscraper. 

What’s the rating?  “Skyscraper” is rated PG-13 for sequences of gun violence and action, and for brief strong language. And these elements are all there. What the rating does not explain, however, is that the majority of “Skyscraper” involves children in peril. In fact, the very first scene involves the deaths of several kids. What follows is lots and lots of violence. Little of it is graphic, but the body count is surprisingly large. 

The dark opening is almost a warning of what’s to come. “Skyscraper” is an interesting example of a film that is not PG, yet not dark enough for an R. A PG-13 won’t stop children from attending, but in this case, it means adults must exercise serious caution.

What’s the ideal viewing age? “Skyscraper” is likely fine for teens and older; they have seen and heard all of this before. And there are some themes parents will approve of -- the importance of family, overcoming disability, the dangers of taking the family on business trips. These are not enough to overcome the question marks for tweens and younger.

Will my little one sit through it? While children under 13 should not be seeing “Skyscraper” at the cinema, those who make it inside will surely love the film. It’s a big, dumb action movie anchored by the rock-steady Johnson and featuring several killer set pieces. The villains are anonymous and some of the production values low-rent, but it is undeniably entertaining.

Is there anything else parents need to consider? It’s easy to see the appeal of “Skyscraper” for parents tired of superhero fare and animated comedies. Still, “Skyscraper” is not a film for families with small children -- not even close. Bite the bullet and see “Hotel Transylvania 3,” watch “Jumanji” at home, and save “Skyscraper” for a parents’ night at the movies.

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