Eli Roth’s tween-friendly spookfest has jump-worthy scenes.
“The House With a Clock in Its Walls” is based on John Bellairs’s same-named 1970s children’s book. It marks the first younger-skewing spookfest from “Hostel” director Eli Roth, who considers this film a “starter horror movie” for families and tweens. But it’s definitely a “know your kid” situation: The movie is creepy, and there are a few scenes that are downright scary/jump-worthy for kids. There are scary toys/dolls, ominous sounds, a demon, witchcraft, necromancy and the occult, but (spoiler alert) the “good” witch and warlocks ultimately prevail against the forces of evil that are threatening them and the world. In one scene, a boy hurts kid protagonist Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), but later Lewis magically makes a basketball hit two bullies during a game. “Damn” and “hell” are used a couple of times, and several mild insults are traded by two adult friends (Jack Black and Cate Blanchett). A married couple kisses. Parents who enjoy horror movies will appreciate this introduction to the genre, but families with sensitive kids should think about whether they’re up for even a “light” fright flick. Those who do watch will appreciate the movie’s messages about teamwork, perseverance, friendship and facing your fears. (104 minutes)
Daniel helps a nervous new neighbor friend feel at home.
“The Daniel Tiger Movie: Won’t You Be Our Neighbor?” is the first-ever movie from the team behind the charming animated series inspired by the lovable, iconic tiger character from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Daniel is the perfect stand-in for the typical preschooler, and kids will love the way he talks directly to them, bringing them into his world and encouraging them to share their thoughts out loud. The movie has a big focus on emotions and how to regulate and express them as Daniel and his friends deal with relatable issues like meeting new people and moving to a new town. It’s strongly centered on themes of family, friendship, empathy and teamwork, as well as what makes a community feel like home. (60 minutes)
Available on PBS Kids.
Popular characters get aged down in funny day care series.
“Total DramaRama” reintroduces several original “Total Drama” characters (plus one add-on from “6teen”) as toddlers who get themselves into comical predicaments in a day care setting. The hook here is that the kids’ personalities haven’t shrunk with their smaller stature, so you have full-grown stereotypes (goth girl, ringleader, rebel, etc.) in toddler bodies. The satire that defined the “Total Drama” shows is less clever in this setting, but there still are plenty of funny moments — often concerning the kids’ skills at outsmarting their director, Chef Hackett — and some physical and potty humor. Kids who enjoy the antics in this show may want to watch other “Total Drama” series that are intended for slightly older audiences, so parents should know the distinctions among them. (11-minute episodes)
Available on Cartoon Network.
Thoughtful documentary on race and other complex issues.
“America to Me” is a documentary series that deals frankly with issues of race. Director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) and his assistants follow a handful of students and faculty members at a progressive high school in suburban Chicago to see what role race plays in their education and everyday lives. Though the show frequently discusses ideas about institutional racism and education, it also shows regular teen life events as simple and compelling as high school dances, football games and poetry slams. It deals with complex issues, but in a very accessible way, making its impact through observation rather than argument. (10 hour-long episodes)
Sundays on Starz.
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