A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Frog and Wombat is a late-'90s movie that is too dated and too precocious for its own good. The sixth grade characters make frequent jokes about menstruation, a girl tells her friends that she wants a boy to be "the father of my children," and at the end of the movie, two girls make insinuations about how a police officer has "the biggest one I have ever seen" before we see the officer and the walkie talkie he is wearing in the front of his pants. In one scene, a group of girls takes turns dipping their toes in a jar of peanut butter, makes a joke about "toe jam," then proceeds to lick the peanut butter off their toes. There's also violence in the form of kidnapping and a bloody crash. The iffy content, coupled with the bad acting of almost all of the kids, ruins what could have been an otherwise engaging mystery story.
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What's the story?
Allie Parker (Katie Stuart), a.k.a. "Frog," and Jane Walker, a.k.a. "Wombat," are two precocious girls who spend their time running around their neighborhood with walkie talkies as they wait for the first day of sixth grade. But when they meet their new neighbor -- who turns out to be their new principal -- and his "cool" twenty-something niece, their nosiness gets the better of them. When the niece mysteriously vanishes, and the girls notice a syringe sticking out of the principal's sport coat pocket -- as well as boxes filled with mysterious pills -- Frog and Wombat suspect foul play. They enlist their other friends to help them find out the truth about their new principal, and even as Wombat starts to tire of the pursuit, Frog stops at nothing, determined to chase down any lead and any clue until they find out just who their new principal actually is, and whether or not he's a murderer.
Is it any good?
Had the child acting been better, had the director relied less on '90s fashions and attitudes, had the movie been less concerned with including iffy humor, perhaps it would have held up better. This is unfortunate, because, at the end of the day, the mystery itself could have held up just fine without the gross jokes and weird behaviors (dipping their toes in jars of peanut butter and licking it off, for instance) of the kids.
But, alas, the child overacting (with the exception of Katie Stuart) quite often borders on excruciating, and overwhelms the core of the story. Unless you're a big fan of '90s kids' movies and are curious to see how tweens lived before the age of unlimited data on cell phones, you'll be turned off by the content, and kids will be turned off by the dated clothing and attitudes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about mysteries. How was this movie similar and different to other mysteries?
What are some of the elements of this movie that firmly date it in the 1990s?
If this movie were remade and set in contemporary times, what do you think would be different, in terms of fashion, technology, and overall attitude? What about the movie would remain the same?
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