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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Descendants 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to Disney's Descendants, continuing the story of four Villain Kids who get a second chance at the good life in the shining kingdom of Auradon. This movie is decidedly darker than the first, with a lengthy sword battle playing out over the fate of Auradon's king-to-be, Ben, and a conniving villain bent on winning at all costs. Mal's struggle with her inner demons also has some serious themes and tense moments, and a happy ending isn't always guaranteed. That said, Mal, Evie, Jay, and Carlos continue to be positive examples of living life by your own moral compass instead of by what others tell you to believe, and there are many instances that celebrate strong female characters who challenge traditional (and fairy-tale, especially) gender roles. Expect to see some kissing between teens in this roundly entertaining movie.
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What's the story?
In DESCENDENTS 2, Auradon is abuzz with excitement over the upcoming cotillion, with Ben (Mitchell Hope) preparing to assume his role as king and Mal (Dove Cameron), her official place as a lady of the court. But as the event draws near, Mal begins to doubt her suitability as the kingdom's future queen, and in a fit of panic, she returns to the Isle of the Lost. There she discovers that her nemesis, Uma (daughter of Ursula) (China Anne McClain), has taken Mal's place as the island's leader, flanked by her devoted pals Gil (Gaston's boy, played by Dylan Playfair) and Harry (Hook's kid, played by Thomas Doherty). Evie (Sofia Carson), Jay (Booboo Stewart), and Carlos (Cameron Boyce) disguise Ben as a Villain Kid and head to the island to bring Mal back to Auradon, but a vengeful Uma has plans of her own to trick the royals into dissolving the barrier between the kingdom and the Isle.
Is it any good?
Disney doesn't miss a beat with this worthy follow-up to the popular tale of the offspring of notorious villains rejecting their parents' wicked ways. As this story opens, Evie, Jay, and Carlos are happily settled in Auradon with little care of their past ways, but Mal wrestles with her inability to forget them completely. What follows is an identity crisis of epic proportions, made worse by her attempts to hide her troubles rather than working them out in healthy ways. It's a problem that may resonate with kids and tweens, and seeing Mal embrace her uniqueness, acknowledge her situation, and turn to her friends for help they're more than happy to give has great messages for viewers.
Descendants 2 fills the personnel gap left by the respective parents of Evie, Jay, Carlos, and Mal with a fun ensemble of new and newly prominent characters, in particular the scene-stealing Uma. Also noteworthy is the sword-wielding Lonnie (Dianne Doan), whose refusal to let the fact that she's a girl stop her from her goals would make her mom, Mulan, proud. Those who love Disney productions for their song-and-dance routines have good reason to be excited about this movie's excellent soundtrack, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Descendants 2 presents female characters. Are they strong-willed? Do they work well with others? How do they relate to their male counterparts? Which ones are positive role models and why?
Are the villains in this story scary? Do you like being a little scared when you watch a movie?
Kids: What qualities make you unique among your friends? Are there times when you don't like standing apart from a crowd? How does it feel to be the unintentional center of attention?
Why is it important to talk about your feelings? Who do you confide in when you need advice? How does your family keep the lines of communication open? Why is communication an important character strength?
- In theaters: July 21, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: August 15, 2017
- Cast: Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Sofia Carson
- Director: Kenny Ortega
- Studios: Disney Channel Original Movies, Lifetime, American Broadcasting Company (ABC)
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Music and Sing-Along
- Character strengths: Communication
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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