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What to watch with your kids: ‘Spirited’ and more

Here’s what parents need to know

Ryan Reynolds, left, and Will Ferrell in “Spirited,” a musical comedy based on “A Christmas Carol.” (Claire Folger/Apple TV Plus)
Spirited (PG-13)

Age 13+

Dickens musical has comedic chemistry, swearing, slapstick.

Spirited” is a creative musical comedy based on Charles Dickens’s classic holiday story “A Christmas Carol.” This take on the redemption tale flips the script on Marley & Co. by coming at the story from the ghosts’ perspective. Although most of the humor is aimed at adults, many kids love stars Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell, and there’s a memorable subplot about a 12-year-old and the dangers of misusing social media. Other themes include teamwork and perseverance. Expect a few creepy moments with the ghosts, but given that it’s all presented within the context that their appearance is an elaborate production, scares are quickly subdued. There’s also plenty of slapstick humor, a bit of innuendo, and a wide assortment of saucy language and inventive insults, including “s---,” “diddling,” “d--king,” “dingus” and “prick” — a 19th-century put-down even gets its own hilarious song-and-dance number. A negatively portrayed character is referred to as a drunk and is seen holding a glass that infers alcohol is in it. A romantic subplot involves kissing and flirting and features actors in their 50s, which automatically makes them nontraditional love interests. (127 minutes)

In theaters; also available on Apple TV Plus.

A Christmas Story Christmas (PG)


Age 8+

Sequel to holiday fave has language, injuries, drinking.

A Christmas Story Christmas” is a sequel to the beloved 1983 film and features many of the same characters and actors (including star Peter Billingsley). It has lots of positive messages about family and friendship, as well as many scenes involving adults drinking, kids clamoring for toys for Christmas, and both kids and adults bullying each other. Characters fall down and have sledding accidents that include falling from heights, ramming head-on into cars and lampposts, breaking limbs, and being taken to the hospital with injuries. People grieve the loss of loved ones. A boy looks at an underwear catalogue, and a child is allowed to help behind a bar. Language includes “hell,” “damn,” “a--,” “dumba--,” “son of a b----,” “suckers,” etc. (98 minutes)

Available on HBO Max.

Mickey: The Story of a Mouse (TV-G)


Age 10+

Insightful doc about history of iconic cartoon character.

Mickey: The Story of a Mouse” is a revealing documentary about the making and merchandising of the iconic cartoon character. References and images include bombings, bullying, death, guns, war and smoking. There’s a mention of the word “helluva.” One of the film’s important messages is how one person’s hopes and dreams can make a positive impact on others. Themes also include perseverance, communication and teamwork. (89 minutes)

Available on Disney Plus.

Slumberland (PG)

Age 10+

Child faces peril, parental loss in imaginative adventure.

Slumberland” is an action-packed adventure film in which characters, including a child named Nemo (Marlow Barkley), face significant danger. Nemo’s life and the lives of others are often at risk, and her father dies in an early scene. People fall down, are pushed out of windows, crash in cars and airplanes, are hit with a freeze ray and locked up, drown in the ocean or come close to it, and are pursued by nightmarish shadowy creatures. And Nemo isn’t the only character experiencing sorrow who feels like she wants to disappear and let life pass her by. Characters demonstrate courage and resilience, making sacrifices for one another. The film’s story and characters are based loosely on Winsor McCay’s early 1900s comic strip “Little Nemo in Slumberland,” and it has some insightful messages about overcoming grief and choosing to live life to its fullest. Language includes “damn,” “hell,” “heck,” “butt” and mild insults. Jason Momoa, Kyle Chandler and Chris O’Dowd co-star. (117 minutes)

Available on Netflix.

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