Goonies meets LOTR in fun but sometimes scary adventure.
“The Kid Who Would Be King” is a modernized twist on the Arthurian legend of the sword in the stone. It centers on a relatable, regular English schoolboy named Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis), who’s chosen to wield Excalibur and save the world. The movie is tween-friendly (it’s kind of like “The Goonies” crossed with “The Lord of the Rings”), but families with younger kids should know that the villains — evil Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) and her minions — are creepy, dark and quite scary. Several violent battles/confrontations involve the destruction of a school, tense chases and pursuits, gouts of fire and lots of sword fighting/weapons and close-range combat. While none of the kids is seriously injured, there are plenty of close calls. Characters also argue and deal with fairly intense bullying. There are a few uses of words like “damn,” “hell,” and “oh my God,” as well as insults (“ignorant buffoon,” etc.), but nothing overly salty. One character briefly walks around naked, but nothing at all graphic is shown. Families will be able to discuss several positive messages in the story, including teamwork, perseverance, courage, loyalty and more. (120 minutes)
Globe-trotting heroine’s action-packed origin story.
“Carmen Sandiego” is a reimagining of the story of the infamous artifacts thief of 1990s games and TV fame. In this version, Carmen’s still a thief, but she’s more of a Robin Hood-style character, lifting items of historical and cultural value to prevent them being taken by V.I.L.E. operatives, then returning them to the rightful owners. This makes it easier to think of her as a heroine and to overlook the illegality of how she goes about doing her job. Otherwise Carmen is a fantastic role model — intelligent, altruistic, and willing to challenge authority to do the right thing. Expect some peril and many action sequences that show characters fighting, but no injuries to speak of. This series incorporates solid geographical and cultural information into its plot in creative ways and shows the characters using that knowledge to foil the bad guys’ schemes. (20 22-minute episodes)
Available via Netflix streaming.
’90s-set Goldbergs spinoff doesn’t break much new ground.
“Schooled” is a spinoff of retro sitcom “The Goldbergs” featuring the character of Lainey Lewis (AJ Michalka), who returns to teach at William Penn Academy. Other minor characters from “The Goldbergs” are also featured, notably Coach Mellor (Bryan Callen) and Jon Glascott (Tim Meadows). The show is pretty family-friendly, with occasional very mild violence, no sexual situations, and no profanity, though there are some classic teen situations; for example, when a teenage character is caught with alcohol. If your family enjoys “The Goldbergs,” it’s likely you’ll have fun following a few of the characters through new adventures. (22-minute episodes)
Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. Also available via Hulu streaming.
Quirky comedy has a terrific premise, tons of iffy content.
“Sex Education” is a comedy about a sex therapist and her semi-miserable, definitely sexually uneasy teenage son. The overall vibe is sweet: characters are supportive of each other, often extraordinarily so, and they generally treat each other with acceptance and kindness. That’s not true in the case of two bullied characters: Eric, who is physically menaced for being gay and gentle, and Maeve, who’s know as the “slag” (the show is set in England) of the school. These arcs have some redemption, though, as both work to handle their abusers and accept themselves. Sexual content is extremely frank: We see both men and women nude, including close-up images of genitals in a nonsexual context. We also see them having sex with lots of movement, noise and realistic talk about orgasms, sexual practices, positions, body fluids, body parts and on and on. Expect same-sex kissing and dating, and a general openness and acceptance around gender-identity issues and many types of sexual orientations, including asexuality. Women, including a woman in her 50s, have strong and central roles, and their desires and sexuality are represented as much as that of male characters. Language is frequent and often sexually vulgar: “f---,” “s---” and “hell” as well as “c---,” “j--z,” “t--s.” Insults may have a sexual dimension. Teens habitually drink, smoke cigarettes and smoke pot, including a scene in which one character’s mom flirtatiously shares a joint with a teen. In another scene, a boy takes multiple Viagra pills in hopes of having better sex with his girlfriend and suffers a painful erection, played for laughs. All that said, this show is mature but positive, with realistic problems and relatable characters who often show one another profound kindness in the midst of TV absurdity. (Eight roughly hour-long episodes)
Available via Netflix streaming.
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