The Rhythm Section (R)

Age 15+

Impressive cast can’t save dark, violent thriller.

The Rhythm Section” is an international thriller about Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively), a brilliant but grieving woman who’s willing to transform into an assassin to avenge her family’s deaths. Based on author Mark Burnell’s spy series, the movie — which has been marketed as a female “Bourne Identity” or an English “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” — is very violent. Expect everything from tense car chases and up-close-and-personal fistfights and brawls (sometimes to the death) to assassinations via gunshot, explosions and stabbings. The language is also quite strong: “F---” is used especially frequently. Stephanie also struggles with drug use and starts out as a prostitute. That said, while sex is implied, the movie’s only actual love scene is limited to passionate kissing. (109 minutes)

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts (TV-Y7-FV)


Age 7+

Themes of perseverance, friendship dominate dystopian tale.

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts” is an imaginative, vibrant animated series set in a futuristic world in which mutant animals dominate the surface and most humans live underground. It has tons of visual appeal, creative characters, and clever use of music, as well as standout messages about resilience and challenging stereotypes. Some scenes involve violence with weapons like clubs, maces and a homemade staff (which has a poisonous scorpion stinger on the end). But fatalities are rare and most often the result of accidents rather than physical encounters. Kipo (voiced by Karen Fukuhara) is an appealing main character who refuses to let her circumstances get her down. And her friends show they’re willing to risk their own safety for her sake. This unique series has broad viewing appeal that families with older kids and tweens will enjoy. (10 24-minute episodes)

Available via Netflix streaming.

The Owl House (TV-Y7-FV)


Age 8+

Engaging, quirky fantasy series has broad viewing appeal.

The Owl House” is an animated fantasy series in which a teen aligns herself with a witch and a demon to fulfill her dream of learning witchcraft. The show has some complicated situations that parents should think about in determining whether their kids are ready for the story — including the fact that the main character lies to her mother in order to follow her life’s passion, befriends a rebellious witch who breaks society’s rules to exercise her individual freedom and keeps her true human identity a secret to succeed in a place of otherworldly creatures. But most older kids and tweens will recognize the balance between these aspects of the story and its more obvious, decidedly positive messages about self-esteem and individuality. Expect some cartoon-style violence (hitting, slapping and the occasional sanitized beheading that’s quickly remedied) and name-calling like “sucker” and “weirdos.” (22-minute episodes)

Available on the Disney Channel and streaming.

Little America (TV-14)


Age 12+

Beautifully authentic anthology of immigrant stories.

Little America” is an anthology series based on true immigrant stories that originally ran in Epic Magazine. Mature content varies by episode, and some are more mature than others, like “The Son,” which is about a gay Syrian man who’s escaping the very real dangers of being homosexual in his homeland. All of the episodes are sympathetic to their subjects. They’re presented as fully realized characters with complicated lives who work very hard to survive (and sometimes thrive) and demonstrate the highest levels of perseverance, integrity and courage while doing so. In at least one episode, characters smoke cigarettes and pot and guzzle liquor and beer at a party. In another, a girl slaps a drink out of a classmate’s hand in revenge for the classmate teasing her brother. Cursing isn’t frequent, but “a--hole,” “s---” and “bulls---” are heard. Episodes don’t focus on politics or current news, but they do expose the systemic problems that can cause immigrant families to struggle. (Half-hour episodes)

Available via Apple TV+ streaming.

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