Irreverent, immature comedy cleverly mocks superhero genre.
“Teen Titans Go! to the Movies” is based on the popular Cartoon Network series about five young superhero misfits that’s known for its wink-wink comedy and sometimes-rude humor. The movie stays true to that spirit, cleverly parodying superhero movies within a superhero movie (Robin, voiced by Scott Menville, is obsessed with getting his own film.) Also true to the series, the punchlines feature lots of potty humor (one scene is literally about a toilet), and there’s frequent superhero action. It’s animated and cartoonish, which affects the impact, but weapons — including guns, missiles, swords and lasers — are used frequently, buildings explode and characters are in peril. Language is limited to insults such as “losers” and “stupid,” and other than a couple of glimpses of bare bottoms, there’s no sexual content. While the main characters (Robin, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg and Beast Boy) genuinely care about one another, their moral compasses aren’t fully developed. Moments played for laughs include a hit-and-run car accident where the creature they hit appears to be dead, and a scene in which they take out a future superhero when he’s a baby (they later undo it, but not based on moral reasons). In the end, friendship and teamwork triumph. (88 minutes)
Cruise’s sixth “M: I” adventure is most intense one yet.
“Mission: Impossible — Fallout” is the sixth movie in Tom Cruise’s hit spy action franchise — and the most intense. It steps up the action from previous entries in the series, which is quite a feat. The vehicle chases are much more intense than in previous episodes, and the fighting feels more visceral; blows look like they actually hurt. There are also shootings, knife fights and deaths, but blood is rare (typical for these movies). And there’s still humor. The movie doesn’t feel slow or heavy, despite its nearly 2 1/2- hour running time. Expect a bit of strong language (“s---,” “b----,” etc., plus one use of “f---ing”), but there’s not much in the way of sex or substance-use content to worry about. Main character Ethan Hunt (Cruise) remains a stand-up guy in a world full of betrayal; in general, the good guys are consistently willing to sacrifice themselves to save others. Henry Cavill and Rebecca Ferguson co-star. (147 minutes)
Books-inspired series celebrates individuality, expression.
“Fancy Nancy” is a series inspired by the popular children’s books by Jane O’Connor and center on a young girl who is confident and self-expressive. Nancy’s elaborate wardrobe and vocabulary reflect her desire for all things fancy, and she encourages her friends to appreciate the same level of extravagance. What she learns, though, is that there’s beauty in the diversity of people, and that by appreciating uniqueness in friends, relationships improve. There are strong messages about families, especially related to Nancy’s fondness for her younger sister and her parents’ support of her expression. A supporting character can be bossy and manipulative, which sometimes influences Nancy in negative ways, but she always makes good decisions in the end and learns from the experience. (Two 11-minute stories per episode)
Available on the Disney Junior channel and streaming.
Timely twist on baking contest adds strategy to the mix.
“Sugar Rush” is a reality competition series in which teams of bakers race the clock to create confections. This show’s hook is that contestants are rewarded for working quickly: They can carry over time from the first two rounds to the final one, provided they make the judges’ cut and get to compete in the finals. This creates a sort of dual contest, since the teams have to impress the judges with their baked creations but also work efficiently to maximize their chances at the end. Tensions run high at times, and some teams handle the stress better than others, but on the whole, this is a friendly competition. Judges’ criticism is mixed with positive encouragement and praise for impressive work. Viewers will pick up some tricks of the trade by watching, and there are ample examples of teamwork, determination and problem solving in the competition process. (Eight approximately 52-minute episodes)
Available via Netflix streaming.
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