Wes Anderson comedy has smart teens; also nudity, smoking.

Asteroid City” is a star-studded Wes Anderson comedy that deconstructs the acting and writing process. It’s about a TV show that tells the story of how a play came to the stage, while simultaneously presenting a colorful realization of that production that looks like a film. The layered storytelling isn’t too confusing because Anderson keeps character identities and time periods clear. Because viewers are reminded frequently that they’re watching a play, iffy content has less impact, as we know it’s not “real.” What is likely to drop a jaw or two is a moment of full-frontal female nudity (the body is fragmented, with the head out of the frame) and a reference with a confirming image to the fact that a young voyeur watches her mother having sex. One plot line involves a family coping with the death of a parent, and many characters carry guns in their waistbands, though it seems mostly to indicate the era and their characters’ attitudes (though one is pointed at someone in a heated moment). Dialogue includes suicide references. It’s set in the 1950s, so it’s not especially surprising that everyone smokes, including a 10-year-old. Adults sip martinis and drink beer. Swearing isn’t frequent but includes “b—-” and “what the hell.” The movie’s teen characters are celebrated for their intelligence, innovation and curiosity. (104 minutes)

Sparkly preschool series celebrates differences.

Not Quite Narwhal” is a TV series based on the popular book series of the same name. It follows Kelp (voice of Nevin Kar), a young magical creature who feels different from his narwhal family, then discovers he’s a unicorn. There’s no scary or iffy content, so the show is appropriate for even the youngest viewers. Like the books, the show emphasizes messages of acceptance, celebrating differences and social-emotional learning throughout. (27 13-minute episodes)

Pretty Freekin Scary (TV-G)

Spooky sitcom about a teen’s second chance at life.

Pretty Freekin Scary” is a Disney Channel original comedy series for kids and tweens. The show is based on a book series of the same name by Chris P. Flesh. After an accident lands her in the Underworld, teenager Frankie Ripp (Eliana Su’a) strikes a deal with the Grim Reaper (Siobhan Murphy) that allows her to return home. In each episode, Frankie and her otherworldly friends try to complete a nearly impossible task set by the Reaper. Themes include teamwork, adventures and discussions about death, although the imagery isn’t particularly scary. Frankie conceals the terms of her agreement from almost everyone, including her parents. This may invite some conversations with young viewers about honesty. (20 roughly half-hour episodes)

Available on Disney Plus.

Great songs, positive themes in sincere family comedy.

World’s Best” is a heartwarming family musical comedy about a 12-year-old boy who’s struggling to figure out his place in the world. Prem Patel (Manny Magnus) is very good at math, but he doesn’t know whether he wants to continue being known as a “math nerd.” When he discovers that his father, Suresh (Utkarsh Ambudkar) — who died of cancer when Prem was little — was actually an underground rap hero, Prem decides he might give rapping a try. Characters demonstrate courage, curiosity and gratitude, as well as teamwork and perseverance. Some kids show bullying behavior when they make fun of other kids who are good at math, calling them names and stealing their journals. In retaliation for being teased, a boy tries to punch one of his tormentors but misses, falls down and hurts his arm. Language includes “suck,” “dork,” “butt” and “fart,” and Prem nearly says “a–” in one of his songs. Both adults and kids make lighthearted references to romantic relationships, and while there is no drinking, drugs or smoking, middle-schoolers do visit a bar/club in the daytime to ask about its open mic nights. (101 minutes)

Available on Disney Plus.

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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