Published On: Fri, Nov 24th, 2023

Common Sense Media’s weekly recommendations

Common Sense Media’s weekly recommendations
Common Sense Media’s weekly recommendations


Celebration of Disney animation is fun — but only just fine.

Wish” is an animated musical about a 17-year-old girl finding her power in the magical kingdom of Rosas. Made to celebrate Disney’s 100th anniversary, the story references frequent Mouse House themes — including “when you wish upon a star” and “a dream is a wish your heart makes” — and has plenty of Easter eggs for fans. It also shows the studio’s progress: Main character Asha (voiced by Ariana DeBose) is smart and capable, not a damsel who needs rescuing. She’s also Afro-Latina, with a White father, and Rosas is widely diverse in terms of ethnicity, body type and disability. The movie is heartwarming and funny, with little iffy content (“butt” is used once). But younger or more sensitive kids might be scared by the villain’s explosive rage or scenes in which he uses crackling magic to hurt others. Characters also experience grief, both from losing people they love (Asha’s father has died) and from the snuffing out of their dearest wishes. Ultimately, though, the movie’s messages are that our dreams represent who we are and that it’s important to do the right thing, even when it’s difficult. (95 minutes)

Magical, lyrical adaptation of classic tear-jerker.

The Velveteen Rabbit” is a mostly live-action adaptation of Margery Williams’s classic 1922 book. While the story is beautiful and touching, be prepared for some potential tear-jerker moments. Main character William (Phoenix Laroche), who’s 7, gets scarlet fever and nearly dies. After he recovers, his beloved stuffed animal is taken away to be burned so the disease won’t spread. Though the Velveteen Rabbit (voiced by Alex Lawther) lives on as a real bunny thanks to story magic, young kids might be upset to see a beloved toy separated from its kid in such a dramatic way. Also, some other toys aren’t very nice to the Velveteen Rabbit. (44 minutes)

Available on Apple TV Plus.

Dashing Through the Snow (PG)

Entertaining holiday tale has pratfalls, uplifting themes.

Dashing Through the Snow” is a family-friendly holiday movie with positive messages about family and having faith. Violence — including a knockdown fight involving reindeer, car chases, and people falling from high places or moving cars — is played mostly for laughs. More serious is a scene involving a man who seems to be considering hurting himself and has to be talked down from a high structure by a crisis counselor. A woman mentions making “peppermintini” drinks. Adults kiss, and mild language includes “jerk,” “butt,” “shut up,” “crook” and fart jokes. A plot involving a corrupt politician could be confusing for young viewers. The majority-Black cast is led by singer-actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Lil Rey Howery; in the movie, it’s said that Santa has always been Black, but history books changed that. The characters show empathy for others, particularly those in need, and learn that believing in something larger than yourself — like, say, Santa — can bring joy. (115 minutes)

Available on Disney Plus.

Tender animated musical has mild innuendo, language.

Leo” is a tender animated musical starring Adam Sandler and Bill Burr as veteran classroom pets. Both the kids in the movie and those watching at home learn important lessons about empathy and self-forgiveness from wise lizard Leo (Sandler) and his ability to lend a supportive ear. Leo and other animals recall being handled roughly by small children, and Leo’s tail gets cut off (he says it grows back). In other scenes, a teacher nearly falls out of a moving bus, and a child who’s driving a bus full of classmates nearly crashes. Kids threaten to “destroy” a substitute teacher; they plan to throw gummies at her and change their names and not tell her. Anxious kids deal with loss, grief, insecurity, loneliness, overprotective parents, a mean substitute and the difficulties of growing up. Mild insults and language (like “suck,” “butt,” “pee,” “tush,” “brat,” “dork,” “stupid,” “weirdo,” “doo doo”) mostly revolve around body parts and bodily emissions. One character is confused about where babies come from, kids face the changes of puberty and the animals have some mildly suggestive dialogue that’s meant to be funny. A turtle’s bottom is shown when he removes his shell and is seen wearing a jockstrap (and tattooed). A child mentions a rumor about a kid smoking in middle school, and one teacher calls another substitute a “closet drunk.” (106 minutes)

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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