Engaging series teaches kids about cultures of the world.
“Let’s Go Luna!” introduces young viewers to cities around the world through the experiences of three animal characters who travel with their parents’ circus troupe. In each new place, the kids must solve a problem that sends them on adventures in their new surroundings. They meet locals, taste traditional cuisine, listen to music, see landmarks and architecture and hear bits of the native language. They also learn where in the world their destination lies and a few interesting facts about it. This series is an excellent means of teaching kids about other cultures; more generally, its messages promote the value of new experiences, travel and associating with people who are different from you. Themes of tolerance, respect, kindness and friendship abound. (30-minute episodes)
Available via PBS Kids streaming.
Po mentors accidental kung fu warriors in likable series.
“Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny” continues the story of unlikely martial arts master Po (which began in “Kung Fu Panda”) as he transitions to a mentoring role for four young novices who face off with a formidable foe. As with the other titles in the franchise, martial arts play a prominent role in the show’s content, and the story’s heroes often battle against larger, more powerful enemies. Some exchanges involve weapons, such as swords, staffs and knives, in addition to traditional hand-to-hand sparring, and it’s implied that the occasional character dies. The main villain maintains his underlings’ loyalty via fear and force, as well as manipulation. On the upside, the story illustrates the importance of believing in yourself and your abilities, working together as a team and taking instruction from a mentor. (13 24-minute episodes)
Available via Amazon Prime Video streaming.
Edgy, exciting Santa adventure has iffy behavior, peril.
“The Christmas Chronicles” is a holiday adventure movie starring Kurt Russell that has enough edgy content to make it best for tweens and up. Characters do risky things like steal cars and climb telephone poles. Strong language includes a few uses of “damn” and “hell,” plus insults like “moron.” A kid almost says “s---.” The main characters are grieving the loss of their father, a firefighter who died saving others, during their first Christmas without him. A boy starts to tell his younger sister that there’s no Santa but doesn’t go through with it. Violence is mostly cartoonish mayhem, with no serious injuries, blood or gore shown, but viewers will see punching, shoving, knocking down and characters brandishing a baseball bat and a chain saw. Characters are in danger, and Santa’s CGI elves are cute but sometimes scary. A rock-and-roll musical number has slightly sexualized background singers and some innuendo in the way the song is performed. Holiday messages are mostly about how it wouldn’t be Christmas without presents and Santa Claus, but positive themes include family unity and believing in yourself. The movie sends the idea that it can be okay to do something naughty (even illegal) if it’s for a good cause. Santa is portrayed with a gruff exterior, but he cares about the kids and will do anything to save Christmas. (104 minutes)
Available via Netflix streaming.
Warm holiday romance is cute but predictable.
“The Holiday Calendar” is a romantic Christmas story with a mild magical element: an Advent calendar that seems to be predicting the future. There’s little content of concern for most ages, but the few kisses and adult situations make it best for tweens and up. A character uses “sucks” a few times, and main character Abby (Kat Graham) jokingly calls her friend “stupid” once or twice. Adults drink alcohol in social situations, but no excess is shown. The only violence is a joking offer to beat up an ex-boyfriend. Expect lots of positive representations of diverse races; Abby’s close-knit, loving family offers great role models for African Americans especially. (95 minutes)
Available via Netflix streaming.
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