Frozen II (PG)

Age 6+

Slightly darker sequel charms with catchy songs, messages.

Frozen II” — the sequel to Disney’s 2013 blockbuster — continues the adventures of Arendelle’s magical Queen Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel); her kind sister, Anna (Kristen Bell); and everyone’s favorite snowman, Olaf (Josh Gad). This time around, the characters undertake a dangerous journey to a mysterious enchanted forest, hoping to discover the source of Elsa’s powers. The sisters learn more about their parents’ deaths and backgrounds; thanks to several flashbacks, viewers may feel even sadder about the orphans’ loss. While there’s lots of humor (thanks, Olaf!) and — of course — big musical numbers, the sequel is ultimately a bit more intense than the original. Expect perilous (though never graphic) scenes of elemental spirits chasing and attacking Arendelle/the main characters with wind, water, fire and more. There are also chases, battle scenes with swords, dark secrets and — spoiler alert! — a couple of upsetting (but temporary) deaths. Underlining everything are positive messages about sisterhood, empowerment, acceptance, tolerance, perseverance and true love, and both Anna and Elsa are examples of strong women who lead confidently and communicate with and support each other. (103 minutes)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (PG)

Age 10+

Biopic captures Rogers’ generous spirit, empathy, kindness.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is a biopic based on the unlikely real-life friendship between Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and journalist Tom Junod (Matthew Rhys). In the movie, cynical writer Lloyd (a fictionalized version of Junod) is hesitant to believe that TV’s Mister Rogers can truly be “the nicest man on Earth,” but as he and Rogers bond, Lloyd’s life is slowly transformed, both personally and professionally. Hanks playing Rogers will be enough to appeal to many viewers, and kids familiar with Rogers’ show and legacy may be curious to find out whether the man in the cardigan was truly that compassionate and generous. (Spoiler alert? He was!) There’s a little bit of violence (two punches thrown during a fight at a wedding reception) and adult substance use, as well as a couple of uses of words like “hell” and “crap” and some marital kissing/cuddling. The movie also deals with serious themes like death, forgiveness and estranged family relationships. But overall it’s quite positive and inspiring. Rogers teaches everyone around him about the power of kindness, love and connection. He encourages children and adults alike to believe that they’re special, worthy of love and capable of forgiveness. (108 minutes)

Ghostwriter (TV-G)

Streaming

Age 8+

Charming reboot brings book characters into kids’ lives.

Ghostwriter” is an excellent reboot of the same-named 1990s series. It encourages literature literacy with stories that involve characters from classic and modern books, with content that brings them to life and into the midst of the four kids tasked with helping them. The show is well written, features a diverse cast, has no iffy content, and relates themes from the featured books to issues that arise in the kids’ lives and relationships, encouraging the idea that stories and reading still have relevance in an era of technological dominance. What’s more, it’s so much fun to watch that it’s a great pick for grade-schoolers and their parents, many of whom probably remember the original. (Half-hour episodes)

Available via Apple TV+ streaming.

The Mandalorian (TV-14)

Streaming

Age 10+

Sci-fi violence, real magic in small-screen Star Wars show.

The Mandalorian” is a TV series set in the “Star Wars” universe. The series’ main character (Pedro Pascal) is a bounty hunter, so expect lots of conflict and battles, including those in which faceless henchmen are mowed down by futuristic sci-fi weapons. When characters are killed, they fall down on the ground and lie still; there’s no blood or gore. But characters may scream or writhe in pain, and imagery includes things like a small creature roasting on a spit while another of its kind looks piteous in a cage nearby. Menace and danger are frequent, but the show’s overall tone is action/adventure rather than scary. There’s no strong or iffy sexual content, although romantic complications may rear their heads at some point. Characters show compassion and courage, but even “good” characters use force, violence, and intimidation to realize their aims — the same as the “bad” characters. Scenes take place at bars with creatures drinking, but we don’t know what, and no one acts drunk. Expect to see Mandalorian tie-ins merchandised in the “Star Wars” tradition. (Half-hour episodes)

Available via Disney+ streaming.

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