Jojo Rabbit (PG-13)

Age 13+

Uneven but amusing World War II satire has violence, hate speech.

Jojo Rabbit” is a satiric comedy from director Taika Waititi about a young boy in Nazi Germany who discovers that his beloved mother is hiding a teenage Jewish girl. Though many parts of the movie are light and funny, others are deadly serious, with mature subject matter and violence that’s disturbing, even if it’s not especially gory. There are maimed soldiers, dead bodies, children carrying (and using) machine guns and the hanging bodies of people executed by Nazis. One sympathetic character is killed suddenly and tragically, altering the tone of the movie. Children are orphaned and in frequent danger. An animal is killed on-screen (a boy twists a rabbit’s neck around, then throws the limp body into the woods). Cursing isn’t frequent but includes “s---,” “hell,” “damn” and one “f--- off.” There’s also lots of upsetting hate speech about Jewish people and other enemies of the Nazi regime, but the movie’s sympathies are clearly with the downtrodden. A boy’s imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler, who’s depicted as largely supportive and kind, if also a hateful fascist. Characters drink and get variously sloppy or elated, and many smoke cigarettes. The movie offers a nuanced take on a subject from which it’s very difficult to mine humor: Some people may be offended by its very concept but it’s more thoughtful and funnier than families might expect. Still, it’s one that you’ll want to talk about afterward. (148 minutes)

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The Spooky Tale of Captain Underpants Hack-a-Ween (TV-Y7)

Streaming

Age 7+

Silly holiday story sends positive message about kindness.

The Spooky Tale of Captain Underpants Hack-a-Ween” is a holiday special starring the characters from the popular Captain Underpants books, TV series, and movie. There’s decidedly less potty humor in this story than viewers have seen in other productions, which is likely a welcome change for parents, and there’s a very positive and prominent message about kindness and inclusion at the story’s conclusion. With Halloween (or Hack-a-ween, rather) the theme, some mild scares involving skeletons, bats, various monsters and a pretty creepy evil clown are the norm, and in one scene Captain Underpants suffers respiratory distress for a lengthy time. The kids have little respect for adults, who rarely attempt to exert any control over them anyway. This chaotic story is an okay pick for kids, but adults may tire of the show’s relentless pace. (46 minutes)

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Available via Netflix streaming.

Nancy Drew (TV-14)

Streaming

Age 14+

Soapy revival of classic book character is mature, dull.

Nancy Drew” is based on the series of mystery books for young readers, but the content is considerably more mature than in the books. Nancy is portrayed as college-aged (and played by a 22-year-old actor), as are the other main characters. The chief mystery Nancy and her cohorts are called to solve involves murder, which seems to be connected with a legendary local haunting. We see imagery connected to both: veiled ghosts, a woman who falls off a cliff, another who lies dead on the ground. We don’t see any actual deaths, and though dead bodies are shown at length, we don’t see blood, gore or injuries. A main character’s mom has died; we don’t see the death but we do see part of the funeral and a photo of the mom looking pale and ill. This show’s plot contains supernatural aspects; expect spooky noises and images. Sexual content is also more mature than in the books; Nancy is having sex with her boyfriend and we see a trailer moving rhythmically and then see characters rearranging their clothing. We also see passionate kissing. Language is infrequent: someone is called a “badass” and another character asks “What the hell?” Characters show courage and perseverance in investigating a mystery, but the messages are muddled by poor characterizations. One character is depicted as a stoner, and others drink beer and wine (but no one looks drunk). (45-minute episodes)

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Available via streaming through the CW app.

Little Monsters (R)

Streaming

Age 16+

Blood-soaked, profanity-laden zombie film is great fun.

Little Monsters” is an over-the-top comic-horror movie about zombies and a group of kindergartners who are in their path. The movie is extremely gory, hoping for laughs along with the mayhem and “ew” factor. Blood is everywhere. The undead attack, ravage and eat their victims. Heroes fight back. Viewers can expect all manner of combat; weaponry ranges from assault rifles to shovels and pitchforks. And all the while, more than a dozen kids are comforted, cared for and protected by their spirited and saintly teacher, who keeps them calm, assured of their survival, then risks her life for them. Profanity and coarse sexual language are continuous, mostly delivered by a blowhard, maniacal children’s media celebrity. Expect countless uses of “f---,” “s---” and lots of insults (“douchebag”) and sexual references. Two scenes find a man masturbating while clothed; in another he discovers his girlfriend having sex with another man (breasts are glimpsed). A mind-altering substance is used in two scenes; a little boy gets a shot after a severe allergic reaction. (94 minutes)

Available via Hulu streaming.

Common Sense Media helps families make smart media choices. Go to commonsensemedia.org for age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites and books.

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