Powerful, thought-provoking drama about race, activism.
“The Hate U Give” is based on Angie Thomas’s award-winning book about Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), a black teen who witnesses the fatal police shooting of a close friend. Like the acclaimed novel, the movie deals frankly and powerfully with race and racism. It also addresses the tension between the police and the communities they are supposed to serve and protect and the differences between teens growing up in predominantly African American neighborhoods and those from affluent white neighborhoods. Moments of violence are realistic and often upsetting: a cop shoots an unarmed teen (some blood is shown); gunshots break out at a party; characters brandish and fire guns and get into tense confrontations with the police; tear gas is deployed during a peaceful protest; two classmates push each other; a stepfather beats his stepson; a store is set on fire with people inside; and more. Language is not constant but includes one “f---,” a few uses of “s---,” etc. Teens talk about sex, but no more than kissing is shown; there is also a little bit of drinking by both teens and adults, and characters discuss drug dealing. Families who watch will have plenty of big issues to discuss afterward; hopefully teens will also appreciate the movie’s messages about standing up for what you believe in, being proud of who you are and communicating honestly with your parents and friends. (132 minutes)
Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga shine in a tragic story of love, addiction.
“A Star Is Born” is the fourth big-screen take on a tragic love story centered around the pitfalls of substance abuse and show business. Starring Bradley Cooper (making his directorial debut) as a stadium-filling rock star and Lady Gaga as the struggling singer he discovers and falls for, this version, like its predecessors, revolves around alcoholism and addiction, so there is lots of drinking and drug use, often to excess. You can also expect strong language in nearly every scene, particularly “f---” and “s---.” This mature romance has lots of kissing, several love scenes, and a couple instances of partial nudity, both in sexual and nonsexual contexts. And while the movie has messages about the importance of art and letting your voice be heard, it also explores heavy themes, including mental health, substance abuse, depression, suicidal thoughts and more (136 minutes)
Pals have silly adventures in mellow, outdoorsy kid show.
“WildWoods” is a very mellow kids’ show starring a dopey sasquatch (an actor in a furry suit), an overly anxious sugar glider (a puppet) and a silent snail (“played” by a live snail) who live in a lush, green forest. The woodsy setting and the characters’ silly adventures are meant to encourage kids to take a break from screen time and connect with the outdoors. The show’s messages are simple and positive enough — characters learn how to cooperate with each other and how to be a good sport — but the dialogue and songs can be repetitive. Nature-loving kids who do not mind a slow pace may be the best audience for this mild-to-the-max series. (26 11-minute episodes)
Available via Hulu streaming.
Whimsical books-based show celebrates adventure, friendship.
“Hilda” is an animated series based on the same-named graphic novels by Luke Pearson. The main character is a kindhearted human girl (voiced by Bella Ramsey) who meets and befriends many unusual creatures, including elves, trolls and giants. She helps them solve problems and acts as a mediator of sorts when there are misunderstandings. Hilda is the show’s best quality, but it also benefits from curious characters, exceptionally matched storytelling and animation, and an endearing world of fantasy. (13 24-minute episodes)
Available Netflix streaming.
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