Monster threequel is silly fun, with a few scary parts.
“Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” — the third film in the “Hotel Transylvania” series — follows Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) and his monster pals, including his half-human daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and her family, on a luxury monster cruise vacation. There’s a bit more scary stuff/violence here than in the previous films; much of it is comic, but there are some tense chases, crashes and confrontations, a creepy robot/human hybrid and a long sequence involving an enormous sea monster on a rampage. Expect a few mildly suggestive remarks and moments — butt jokes, buxom witches chasing after an elderly vampire in a skimpy bathing suit, etc. — and a few unflattering depictions of female characters, like a beautiful witch on a dating app who turns out to be a warty troll. There’s also a fair bit of romance in the movie, but it’s limited to flirting, dancing and a couple of kisses. Positive messages include embracing diversity, letting go of negative feelings and grudges, believing in the power of love, parents and kids communicating with each other and the importance of parents reconnecting as partners, not just co-parents. (97 minutes)
A few strong suspense scenes can’t save uneven action movie.
“Skyscraper” is an intense action-disaster movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that plays like a cross between “The Towering Inferno” and “Die Hard.” Violence/suspense is definitely the main concern: Expect lots of guns and shooting, knives, explosions, some bloody cuts and wounds and character deaths (mostly quick and bloodless). The main character removes a shard of impaled metal from his body and dresses the wound himself. Children are in peril throughout most of the story. Language includes a use of “f---” and a few “s---”s, but sex and substance use aren’t issues. There are a few expertly crafted scenes of heart-stopping suspense, but they’re surrounded by plenty of ridiculous, shallow, ineffective material. Still, viewers who don’t mind waiting for the good parts may be entertained. (103 minutes)
Pervasive potty humor, pranks in books-inspired series.
“The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants” is a Netflix series that follows the events of “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie,” which was inspired by Dav Pilkey’s popular books. Bathroom humor is the name of the game here; every variation of farts, poop, wedgies, briefs and butts is mined for laughs. There’s also vomiting, toxic slime, unsavory school lunch menus and lots of other gross-out material at play. The main characters are intentional pranksters who rely on mischief to interrupt class and school functions, causing adults much grief and angering their cranky principal, whom they then hypnotize to strip down to his undies, don a cape, and save the day as Captain Underpants. Safe to say they never learn valuable (or realistic) lessons from their behavior, but they do have a lot of fun. Know that the stories rely on some stereotypical physical characteristics (overweight, elderliness, baldness, etc.) for laughs, and there’s some name-calling, like “tattletale” and “loser.” (13 approximately 22-minute episodes)
Available via Netflix streaming.
Quirky, heartwarming series has cross-generational appeal.
“Summer Camp Island” is an animated series about the animal residents of a magical summer camp. Expect plenty of quirky characters and silly adventures, with inanimate objects like clothing, trees, furniture and even food items talking and interacting with the campers (it’s not as cheesy as you might think). There’s also a real emotional maturity to the content, and the main characters’ friendship is a sweet example of the value of strong relationships. Expect some story lines that involve romantic interest and crushes (this is a summer camp for teens, after all) and mild stereotyping in some of the characters’ personalities (jocks, social outsiders, etc.). More memorable, though, is the show’s intuitive presentation of relatable characters whose daily experiences spur emotional responses and the need for companionship. (20 11-minute episodes)
Available via Amazon streaming.
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