A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Movie attempts to address sibling rivalry: Despite how the two brothers are constantly at each other's throats, they learn they should treat each other much better and look out for each other.
Positive Role Models
The two brothers learn to appreciate and look out for each other. The teen girl is a stereotype: She sleeps in and refuses to be woken up by anyone else in her family, is boy-crazy, sullen, and doesn't undergo any significant character development over the course of the movie.
Violence & Scariness
Spaceships are armed with guns and futuristic missiles; lizardish space aliens are menacing; crazed robot attacks boys; meteors and space weapons blow up the boys' house/spaceship. Frequent explosions, peril. Three siblings are constantly fighting -- a teen sister punches her younger brother in the face; two brothers are constantly chasing each other, tackling each other, calling each other names.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teenaged sister wears a tight top in preparation for her night out; she develops a crush on a character who turns out to be her younger brother at a later age and remarks, "And I wanted to ... " when she discovers the truth.
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Minor language, including kids' use of "d---k," "screwed," "ass," and "bee-yatch." An astronaut makes reference to passing through a "time sphincter." A teen girl develops a crush on an older astronaut; when it's revealed that the astronaut comes from the future and is her younger brother, she remarks, "And I wanted to ... " without articulating the clear sexual insinuation.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Zathura; A Space Adventure is a 2005 movie in which an old board game found in the basement of a newly occupied house leads to fierce space battles and extreme peril from lizard-like aliens with a taste for human flesh. The movie begins with typical tensions, resentments, and competitions between two brothers, age 6 and 10. Their father is divorced, and their teenaged sister is distracted by her interest in boys and parties. The film includes scary music, scary sound effects (crashes, explosions, alien-monster growls), and some images of space aliens and a big robot attacking the boys that might be frightening for younger viewers. Boys use some obnoxious language ("d--k," "screwed") and violence against the aliens to save themselves. The teen girl develops a crush on an older astronaut; when he's revealed to be her brother from the future, her first response is, "And I wanted to ... ." The movie does attempt to address sibling rivalries, the self-esteem issues that can develop, and the importance of two brothers learning to look out for each other. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
ZATHURA: A SPACE ADVENTURE is a movie most likely to appeal to older kids. Like the game in Jumanji, another movie based on a children's book by Chris Van Allsburg (also the literary source for Polar Express), this one helps the siblings to work out their conflicts "metaphorically," here by encounters with hostile monsters, a deranged robot, and a "stranded astronaut" (Dax Shepard).
Their adventures are as episodic as the board game scenario suggests: Each boy takes his turn. But as Jon Favreau's movie is most interested in the boys' relationship, Lisa is best described as plot device, convenient witness, and occasional instigator for their realizations and efforts. In this, she's aided by the astronaut, who shows up during Danny's turn (he's instructed to rescue this stranger and then is attached to the astronaut, who identifies Danny as the one who "spun me"). This provides the younger boy with an eventual conflict, as the astronaut and Walter make different demands. Danny eventually comes to realize that Walter is his brother, no matter how ugly he's been to Danny in the past, and that makes him, as the astronaut observes, "all you have."
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.