Visually stunning remake is darker, more violent.
“The Lion King” is an extremely realistic computer-animated remake of Disney’s beloved 1994 original. Because of the realism (you’ll probably forget you’re not watching real animals some of the time), the violence is definitely more intense and potentially upsetting here than in the more cartoony classic. The insatiably hungry and scavenging hyenas, the terrifying and tear-jerking wildebeest stampede sequence (which ends in a tragic death), and the claw-and-teeth-filled fight scenes are undeniably scary, even for those who know what to expect. That said, there’s plenty of humor, too, including potty jokes from Pumbaa and Timon (the original movie’s implied “farted” is said loud and proud in this version of the pair’s “Hakuna Matata”). And it has clearly positive themes and messages: Parents and kids can discuss issues regarding family, friendship, loss, responsibility and community. The all-star voice cast includes Donald Glover (adult Simba), Beyoncé (adult Nala), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Scar), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa), Billy Eichner (Timon) and the venerable James Earl Jones reprising his inimitable role as King Mufasa. (118 minutes)
Awkwafina shines in excellent dramedy about family, culture.
“The Farewell” is a thought-provoking dramedy starring Awkwafina about a Chinese family that’s dealing with a loved one’s impending death. The film sheds light on the differences between Eastern and Western philosophies of life, particularly in the way that family members interact — but, more than that, it truly enhances understanding of Chinese life, beliefs and traditions. It’s mostly in Mandarin with English subtitles, though the words are fairly simple because several relatives don’t know Chinese well (which makes it a great pick for anyone learning Mandarin who wants to strengthen their skills). Although it’s rated PG, the themes and content are more appropriate for older tweens and up. “S---” is used once, and there’s quite a bit of smoking and drinking, leading up to a booze-fest of a wedding during which the family bonds over drinking games. Some characters communicate a value of money over happiness, and references are made to gambling (which is seen in a seedy, smoke-filled room). Themes include compassion, empathy and self-control. (98 minutes)
Okay mini-golf game show is silly, family-friendly fun.
“Holey Moley” is a game show executive produced by NBA champion Stephen Curry that combines miniature golf with obstacle-course races. It’s family friendly, but contestants often tumble, slip, and fall or get hit with something while making their way through the contest. You’ll hear a few strong words here and there (usually said by contestants), as well as occasional bathroom humor. Sportscaster Joe Tessitore and comedian Rob Riggle offer putt-by-putt commentary. (One-hour episodes)
Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC, also available via abc.com streaming.
Family-friendly themes, laughs sell sitcom/improv series.
“Just Roll With It” is a hybrid sitcom/improvisational comedy series that centers on a biracial blended family and allows the studio audience to choose scenarios for the cast at pivotal points in the story. At predetermined times, a horn sound directs the actors to stop and audience members vote electronically for what will happen when the scene restarts. This format emphasizes the actors’ ability to adapt to changing circumstances and perform under pressure. Also prominent in the story are strong family themes, especially as they relate to blended families and stepparent/stepsibling relationships. Expect to see some mild rebellion from one of the kids, who usually learns a valuable lesson from her missteps. This highly enjoyable series tackles relatable issues of family (and especially blended family) relationships with honesty, heart and many laughs. (30-minute episodes)
Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the Disney Channel; also available via DisneyNOW.
Common Sense Media helps families make smart media choices. Go to commonsensemedia.org for age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites and books.
Correction: An earlier version of this story listed incorrect broadcast times for “Just Roll With It.” This version has been updated.