A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Meant to entertain rather than educate.
Stand up for and be happy with who you are. Don't change yourself in order to be popular. True friends matter. Good triumphs over evil.
Positive Role Models
Cecil learns about accepting and valuing himself, and what is important about an individual. His BFF is a determined, active girl who will take chances and is inventive and courageous. Adult characters are almost all, purposefully, comic caricatures -- silly, bickering, clueless. Grandmother stands in for good parenting and is an accepting individual.
Violence & Scariness
Cartoon violence includes: kicks in butt, firing of water pistols, a spit-wad fight. School principal is mean and menaces the kids. Two adult males have an exaggerated fight, with blows and "waterboarding," results in a bloody, black-and-blue face. Some bullying, teasing, and name-calling. Taxidermist has collection of his work -- creepy stuffed dogs, etc.
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Mild swearing: "crap," "deep doo-doo." Pooping, farting, and potty language. Adult character unknowingly ingests a laxative, then farts and poops in agony.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cecil is an unconventional movie about a boy who lisps, gets laughed at, and sets out to change his 4th grade persona. It's also about popularity, bullying, an embezzling crook who's in debt to the mob, bickering parents who should know better, raising money to save a school newspaper, and very significant friendships. Sound like a lot? It is. Viewers can expect some violence -- a bad guy is roughed up by an even worse guy mostly off camera, but the resulting bruises are nasty-looking. There's a bit of mild cursing ("crap," "deep doo-doo") and a whole lot of screen-time devoted to a traditional "laxative" brownie prank that causes a great deal of misery for the story's villain. With absurd adults behaving in outrageous ways and plenty of poop-and-fart gags, kids are going to laugh a lot even in a movie that's as all over the place as this one. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
In lots of ways, Spenser Fritz's film is a cut above the usual direct-to-DVD live-action fare offered for family viewing, but it's in a world of its own in terms of silliness and chaotic plotting. It's fast-paced, with purposeful slapstick-overacting from the grownups, and the story has a confusing labyrinth of plot elements. Writer-director Fritz goes all-out to make a kids' movie that's inventive and engaging. You want some animation? Check. Bullies? Check. A mob beating? Check. Fritz has also elicited some wonderfully natural performances from the kids (i.e., Christa Beth Campbell as Abby is a delight). Just don't expect a conventional direct-to-DVD experience for kids. The message gets lost in the madness, and Cecil doesn't even attempt to explain the nonsensical events that lead to its conclusion. Kids will be too busy giggling to care.
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.
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