A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Story is based in some of the lore behind mermaids and krakens.
What makes you different is what makes you powerful, so let it shine. Honesty is important. Grandparents have much to offer, but you can't force it. The rules parents put into place to keep kids safe may also be preventing them from realizing their own potential. Also, it's important for parents to be present for their kids and offer nonjudgmental support, and fighting after you've said your piece often only makes a problem bigger. Themes of puberty, family, self-actualization, courage, empathy, and self-acceptance. The power dynamics between the mermaids and the kraken might remind some viewers of real-life situations involving humans of different races and/or social statuses.
Positive Role Models
Ruby is a smart teen who loves and excels at math. She and the women in her family are especially strong, inside and out, and prioritize others' needs. Characters lie to and deceive each other, but there are consequences and apologies.
People from historically marginalized groups may relate to Ruby's family feeling they need to hide their identity to assimilate. Racial, sexual, and body diversity among animated characters, both primary and supporting. Ruby's crush is a Black skater boy, and her best friend, Margot, is queer and of Indian descent. In the ocean, the women are the warriors, and the female kraken, who are celebrated for their large size, are the leaders. Male characters are helpful and supportive of women. Voice actors are from diverse backgrounds: Star Lana Condor is Vietnamese American, and other characters are voiced by Black, White, German Indian, and Chinese American actors, among others.
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Violence & Scariness
Battle scene between fantasy sea creatures that creates a tidal wave, putting marine life and teen characters in peril -- but it isn't emotionally manipulative and is only superficially worrisome. Unconscious human falls into water and is sinking for some time before being rescued. Slapstick comical animated violence involving an underwater sea creature getting hit by a car and speared in the head, but its rubbery body isn't affected, nor does it feel pain.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Subplot focuses on crushes and prom dates. A couple of quick affectionate kisses.
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A couple of mild insults: "dum-dum," "shut up," and "stupid."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken is an animated coming-of-age tale about realizing your own power. To avoid being perceived as horrible sea monsters, main character Ruby (voiced by Lana Condor) and her kraken family have assimilated on land. They're disguised as humans in the diverse town of Oceanside, where the high school is harmoniously comprised of people of all skin colors, body types, and identities. But Ruby yearns to be accepted as her authentic self, instead of pretending to be something she's not. When she and her new friend explore the ocean together, Ruby disobeys and lies to her mom. But it turns out her mother has been lying to her, too -- and there are consequences and apologies. Perilous moments include an unconscious teen sinking in the ocean before being rescued and a fantasy battle in the water world that temporarily puts humans at risk. Language is limited to insults like "dum-dum" and "stupid." There's a clear message that what makes you different is what makes you powerful, and characters demonstrate empathy and courage. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A parenting gold mine, this literal fish-out-of-water story is completely entertaining and enjoyable for all ages, with plenty of positive messages. Director Kirk De Micco returns to the fertile ground he previously tilled in The Croods in telling the story of a teen girl who needs to get away from overprotective parents to realize her own capabilities. The message to kids can be applied in a variety of ways: "shine your light," "you have more power than you know," "a hero lies in you just below the surface," etc. There's also a nice nudge for grandparents -- yes, you have much to offer, but you can't force it. And for parents, Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken offers an important reminder of the fact that, sometimes, the rules we put into place to keep our kids safe may be preventing them from realizing their full potential.
Ruby's mom, Agatha, is a fully realized character, a successful realtor with a picture-perfect family -- as long as she can keep the family's secrets hidden. There's a lot of parenting wisdom sprinkled throughout the movie, but two scenes shine as examples of dealing with teen emotions. When Ruby is distressed by her new giant kraken form, Agatha sits with her, distracting her with funny stories, which calms Ruby into returning to her normal self. Agatha literally reduces the problem by being present and offering nonjudgmental support. Later, Agatha and Ruby are arguing, and Agatha digs in to her righteousness, escalating Ruby's rage until the girl is out of control -- in other words, demonstrating that fighting after you've said your piece only makes the problem bigger. These nuggets of wisdom are there for the taking, but the truth is, you don't have to do a deep dive to enjoy this ocean tale: There's plenty of fun floating on the surface.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.