A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lego DC Super Hero Girls: Brain Drain is the third of the DC Super Hero Girls movies, only this one, unlike the others, is an animated Lego production. This adventure is an original story in which the three leading characters from Super Hero High School -- Batgirl, (young) Wonder Woman, and Supergirl -- fight to save the planet from female versions of longstanding DC Comics villains (e.g., "Lena" Luthor). It's cartoon action -- chases, explosions, hand-to-hand combat, close calls, attacks from critters, and vicious cackling villainesses -- from start to finish. The teen heroines are smart, savvy, strong, and brave, and function as a highly productive team. Far from damsels in distress, or sidekicks, they command the action, outwit the bad gals, and, of course, save the day. Lego has created, and continues to create, partnerships with an astonishing number of established kid-friendly brands (Scooby-Doo!, DC Comics, Marvel Comics) so that fans will have an ongoing catalog of action figures and associated merchandise from which to choose. Part adventure, part toy ad, it's only meant for kids who have a clear understanding of real versus pretend violence.
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What's the story?
Supergirl (voiced by Anais Fairweather), Batgirl (Ashlyn Nicole Selich), and Wonder Woman (Grey Griffin), classmates at Super Hero High School, awaken after a joint nightmare in LEGO DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: BRAIN DRAIN to find that it's Tuesday. They're stunned. What happened to Monday? Even more stunned when they discover that there's visual evidence that on Monday they were guilty of vandalism, uploading an embarrassing video, and kicking the principal's car onto the tower that once held a precious and magical jewel that has now disappeared. And that's not even mentioning the fact that Batgirl, a stellar student, got a C- on a pop quiz. Really? Could it have been mind control? And if so, who is responsible? They find out soon enough when they see that some of their best buddies and even school faculty are behaving in mysteriously bizarre ways. It's all about the jewel, and an evil longstanding enemy and her cohorts with a plan to destroy the planet and take control of the legendary GemWorld. It takes all of the trio's smarts and resources to track down the culprits, right the wrongs that they unknowingly committed, and ultimately save the world again.
Is it any good?
It's always a plus when young female audiences have truly strong, brave, and smart super heroines to root for, and there's no question that they'll find them in this otherwise routine story. Plus, there's plenty of thrills for action fans, with the girls careening through the skies and battling evil with the prowess of the most heroic boy characters.
Still, while Lego DC Super Hero Girls: Brain Drain has music, jokes, suspense, and ongoing likable characters, it's a ho-hum production, lacking originality and specialness. And even little kids might be annoyed by some of the shrill and overly cutesy voice performances; grownups will simply cringe. Then there's the matter of Lego joining the DC family once again. Other than enhancing their toy and merchandise catalogues, what possible reason could there be to turn the animated teen Super Hero Girls into Legos?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the marketing strategy that exists with toy companies and film production companies joining forces to blend their brands and sell more stuff. See the movie, buy the toys. Buy the toys, then see the movie. Why is important to be aware of these joint ventures? How does your family handle the consumer side of the adventures?
Do you think that Lego DC Super Hero Girls: Brain Drain has enough action and thrills to appeal to boys as well as girls? Why do you think that girls are more likely to watch movies with boys as the heroes than the other way around?
Many contemporary stories for kids portray girls as active, powerful, and effective. How do the Super Hero Girls differ from the traditional fairy tale heroines? Is this a good thing? How do movies and stories with "can-do" girls change the culture?
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