Common Sense Media’s weekly recommendations


Clever, colorful comedy with sophisticated themes, script.

Writer-director Greta Gerwig’s all-star take on “Barbie” has a sophisticated message about feminism and the patriarchy (and, consequently, a screenplay that will probably go over younger kids’ heads). The movie follows “Stereotypical Barbie” (Margot Robbie) and her handsome but insecure (boy)friend, Ken (Ryan Gosling), as they venture into the human world and discover the shocking-to-them truth that Barbie dolls didn’t actually solve the problems of sexism and patriarchal control. While there’s no sex in the movie (the Barbies and Kens are frank about not having genitals), Kens are shown shirtless, Barbies get catcalled, and there are suggestive references to the dolls’ bodies — including Ken’s “nude bulge” — and how a male-dominated society expects women to be ornamental and helpful. There’s a bleeped use of vulgarity (plus “crap,” “shut up,” “oh, my God,” etc.), a couple of big brawls with silly weapons, slapstick chases, beer drinking and near-constant mentions of Barbie maker Mattel. Characters demonstrate empathy and perseverance, and Barbie Land is populated by a diverse group of Barbies and Kens from a range of body sizes, disabilities, and racial and ethnic backgrounds. The supporting cast includes Simu Liu, Issa Rae, America Ferrera, Will Ferrell, Emma Mackey and Michael Cera. (114 minutes)

Comedy about drama kids has swearing, suggestive comments.

Theater Camp” is a mockumentary about an intensive summer drama program. Expect tons of Broadway musical references and jokes about whether kid actors can believably play adult sex workers, drug users or sexy characters. There’s occasional strong language (both in conversation and in song), including a couple of uses of “f—,” plus “s—,” “a–,” “b—-,” “damn,” etc. A musical number references a woman’s cocaine use and shows a giant prop nose snorting cocaine (white fabric comes out of the nostril). There’s not much violence beyond stage combat, one slap, and the framing story about the camp director being in a coma. Adult camp staffers discuss a character’s former crush on another actor, and a man talks about a “hot” woman and flirts with another woman. The cast is diverse, and the story — while very much tongue in cheek — demonstrates how arts camps can be safe, welcoming spaces for kids. Based on a short film written and directed by childhood friends/performers Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman and Ben Platt (as well as Platt’s fiancé and fellow Broadway star Noah Galvin), the movie is both a labor of love and a tribute to anyone who’s gone to an arts camp that encourages campers to be their true, drama-obsessed selves. (94 minutes)

Nolan’s complex A-bomb biopic has sex, swearing, violence.

Oppenheimer” is director Christopher Nolan’s drama about J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), the scientist responsible for the creation of the atomic bomb. But it’s less a history lesson than it is an examination of the unholy matrimony of quantum physics and military bureaucracy, and things can get pretty confusing thanks to frequent undated time jumps and a barrage of names and characters to keep straight. The sex scenes (Nolan’s first) include frequent partial nudity (particularly co-star Florence Pugh’s breasts). Characters smoke, as would be expected in the 1930s-1950s setting, and drink. A bomb trial demonstrates the enormousness of the weapon’s capabilities, with fire, noise and smoke. But viewers are told about, rather than shown, the horror that unfolded after the bomb was ultimately dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There are references to mass assassination, death by suicide and a brief hallucination of a young woman’s skin appearing to blow off. Language includes a few uses of “f—,” plus “goddamn,” “s—” and more. (180 minutes)

Lively animated African adventure has great role models.

Supa Team 4” is the first African animated series from Netflix. This sci-fi superhero adventure is about four tween classmates at Kamiji Secondary School who are brought together by the mysterious Mama K (voice of Pamela Nomvete). Set in a futuristic version of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, the series introduces lots of African words, as well as cultural traditions and landscapes. While each talented team member brings a skill to the table, they also use teamwork and perseverance to keep their community safe. Expect a bit of mild violence, like when a tornado threatens the school and people cower under tables. The series is created, written and voiced by African people and is a lively, action-packed intro to Afrofuturism. (Eight 22-minute episodes)

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.



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