The Fabelmans (PG-13)
Sentimental Spielberg origin story; bullying, pot, swearing.
“The Fabelmans” is the sentimental, not-too-dark, at-times-funny origin story of filmmaker Steven Spielberg. While the story follows the development of a great talent, it’s really about the relationship that Spielberg stand-in Sam (Gabriel LaBelle) has with his parents (Paul Dano and Michelle Williams), who surround him with love, support and attention. The movie positively portrays Jewish American experiences and traditions, including religious holidays, music, speaking Yiddish and mourning through Shiva. Also reflected is the shock of the antisemitic bullying and hate speech (“k---”) that Sam encounters when his family moves to an affluent Christian community. The movie has a recurring theme of people trying to find control through life’s twists and turns (in one scene, a mother drives her children toward a tornado, ordering them to chant, “Everything happens for a reason”). There’s some romance between teens, adults and a married couple, and the long-term consequences of infidelity are depicted. Language includes “a--hole,” “s---” and a single use of “f---.” Teens share a joint, adults drink and a powerful character smokes a cigar. (151 minutes)
Charming sequel will please fans; mild scares, romance.
“Disenchanted” is the mostly live-action sequel to 2007’s hit “Enchanted.” Stars Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey reprise their roles, and Maya Rudolph joins the cast. Potentially upsetting or scary scenes involve characters turning evil and treating one another cruelly. Lives, including those of kids, are threatened by dragons, giants, sleeping potions, falls, fires, fights, spells, curses and the destruction of the world. Adults kiss and drink wine. Though characters treat each other cruelly, they do so under spells, and there seems to be a message that the real world can actually be just as good as in fairy tales. (119 minutes)
Available on Disney Plus.
Dead bodies, spooky imagery in cliched, darkly comic drama.
“Wednesday” is an edgy, darkly comic drama series centered on Wednesday Addams, a character who’s appeared in different Addams Family movies and TV shows. Here, Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) is involved in a mystery with real deaths — in one instance, there are images of a victim’s severed and bloody head, limbs and torso scattered in the woods. She’s also dangerous to those around her: For example, she unleashes bags full of piranhas in a school swimming pool. But the show definitely still has comic touches, and Wednesday herself is sometimes sympathetic, particularly when she’s protecting others from bullying behavior. Violence is the biggest issue in the series, with dead bodies, supernatural powers and battles, injuries, sudden deaths, and frequent mortal danger. Scary imagery includes shadowy woods, black candles burning and characters with unusual physical characteristics (vampires, werewolves, etc.). Characters flirt and kiss, and a long-married couple kisses passionately while making sexual noises. Language includes “s---,” “hell” and “goddamn,” as well as insulting language like “freak.” Storylines dealing with school dramas feel cliched, with thinly drawn characters and “in” groups and “out” groups that play into stereotypes. (Eight 60-minute episodes)
Available on Netflix.
Common Sense Media helps families make smart media choices. Go to commonsense.org for age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites and books.