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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids can learn about self-awareness, sacrifice, and courage through Darren transformation's from regular teenager to half vampire. Crepsley, despite being centuries-old and curmudgeonly, demonstrates the importance of not being completely self absorbed. Together, and with the help of the circus folk, they triumph over a looming threat.
Positive Role Models
Darren is willing to sacrifice his life in order to save his best friend's, and he refuses to drink blood from anyone, even people who've been sedated, until Rebecca freely offers him some of hers. He's sweet, open-minded, and brave, and he doesn't fight unless it's for self-defense. On the other hand, his foil/best friend is the exact opposite -- Steve is selfish, sullen, and volatile, not to mention violent.
Violence & Scariness
Although many of the fight scenes are slightly comic, there's plenty of violence, including stabbings with knives and swords, fistfights, kicking/stomping, slashings with vampire nails, and the protagonist having his neck broken for the sake of faking his death. Most of it isn't gory or bloody (surprising for a vampire movie!), but it's still fairly dark. There are also possibly disturbing scenes of the titular "freaks" (a girl with a monkey tail, a boy who's green/scaly like a snake, a man with two bellies, a woman who can rip off her limbs and regenerate them, a man with no skin covering his lower abdomen/ribs, a Bearded Lady, and more.). And those who are afraid of spiders will have several "look away" moments.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple of embraces and kisses between Crepsley and Madame Truska (as well as a joke about her beard growing out as a sign of arousal) and Alexander and Jane. Chaste flirting between Darren and Rebecca and a lips-only kiss (which does make her monkey tail stand on end...).
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Several uses of the word "s--t" and its cousins "bulls--t" and "holy s--t/crap," as well as a few utterances of "a--hole," "ass," "hell," "dick," "oh my God," and milder insults like "jerk," "wimp," "stupid," and "idiot."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults and vampires drink socially on a couple of occasions.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that amped-up violence and language make The Vampire's Assistant movie too mature for younger tween fans of the Cirque du Freak books it's based on. There are several disturbing scenes of vampires stabbing, punching, kicking, and otherwise wiping the floor with each other (although none of it gets particularly gory), along with potentially disturbing images of circus "freaks" and fairly regular use of words like "s--t," "a--hole," and the like. Although the sexuality is on the mild side (especially for a vampire tale), there are a few kisses and a brief glimpse of the protagonist about to suck blood from a willing love interest. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director Paul Weitz would have been better off adapting just one book, since the conflation of three novels (even ones in a series) rarely translates well. (Think of the disappointing Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.) Consequently, The Vampire's Assistant drags on for almost an hour before Darren is even made a "half vampire." And by the time he joins the self-proclaimed freaks, the audience isn't able to fully immerse itself into their intriguing culture because the action shifts to the battling vampire groups. There's a ridiculous montage of Darren hanging with his new friends -- flirting with Rebecca the monkey girl, jamming with Evera the snake boy, and eating barbecue with the entire clan. It doesn't help the bland characterizations that Massoglia says everything in an emotionless monotone.
Hutcherson, who was brilliant in Bridge to Terabithia, nails the insecure, impetuous character of Steve and deserves more leading -- not sidekick -- roles. The familiar actors in the supporting cast -- including Hayek, Jake Krakowski, Orlando Jones, and Willem Dafoe -- are frustratingly underused, while Tony-Award-winning actor Cerveris chews up the scenery as a jowly mastermind with a penchant for purple accessories. Reilly is, as expected, laugh-inducing, from his hilariously awful Ronald McDonald hairdo to his many quips about vampire life. Bits and pieces of the movie work fairly well, but as a whole, it feels much longer than it is, and it makes you wish it had been adapted into a TV series instead, where all of the characters could have let their freak flags fly, instead of being reduced to just a few sequences.
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Our Editors Recommend
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