NYC Cinderella musical has diverse cast, positive messages.
“Sneakerella” is an uplifting, gender-swapped musical take on the classic Cinderella tale set in New York City. It follows a talented sneaker designer named El (Chosen Jacobs) who’s forced by his grieving stepfather and scheming stepbrothers to toil in the stockroom. The racially and ethnically diverse characters hail from a working-class neighborhood. Even when they find wild success, as some do, they make sure to give a lift to those behind them, demonstrating integrity. Other messages built into the film include staying true to yourself and letting your talent speak for itself. There’s very little iffy content beyond the consumerist idea of spending huge amounts of time and money on sneakers, a few minor (and injury-free) falls, and mild language (“sucker,” “idiot,” “hustler,” “oh my God,” etc.). (112 minutes)
Available on Disney Plus.
Sweet, lovable LGBTQ+ romance has teen-friendly content.
“Heartstopper” is a romance between teen boys that’s set in England and based on the novel by Alice Oseman. Since a romantic relationship is central to the plot, expect flirting, dating and kissing. There’s lots of emphasis on liking others: who has a crush on whom, who’s texting whom, etc. But sexual content is mild and mainly confined to kisses and hand-holding. In one scene, a boy who was a victim of bullying when classmates found out he was gay is depicted as a lonely figure while voices and written messages on the screen taunt him. One character tries to forcefully kiss another; a third character pulls him off and shoves him away. Language is mild: “a--” appears in a text, and there’s some vulgar British slang like “knob” and “p--- off.” Teens at a party drink from plastic cups, but no one acts drunk. Characters are supportive of one another and largely kind, friends and family members hug and are honest with their feelings, and themes of integrity and empathy are strong. (Eight roughly half-hour episodes)
Available on Netflix.
Senior Year (R)
High school comedy has raunchy language, innuendo, drinking.
“Senior Year” is a sometimes-raunchy comedy about a woman named Stephanie (Rebel Wilson) who falls during a cheer stunt as a teen and wakes up 20 years later, only to be surprised by how much more apparently egalitarian high school is now. Expect to see teens drinking, smoking pot, swearing, talking about sexual acts, and being obsessed with their smartphones and number of Instagram followers. The movie also portrays modern teens as “woke” and very sensitive to political, social and climate concerns. Stephanie learns that popularity doesn’t bring happiness and that the quality of your friends is more important than how many you have. The film’s cast is diverse, and society is depicted as having evolved in its treatment of differences — for example, in how (or whether) people use words like “gay.” Sexual content is more talk than action (other than kissing and suggestive gestures/dancing), but there’s a lot of raunchy talk. Language also includes frequent use of “f---,” “s---,” “suck,” “a--hole,” “b----,” “crap,” “d---,” “slut” and a slew of insults, many sexual or anatomical. (113 minutes)
Available on Netflix.
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