A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Malibu Rescue: The Movie is the pilot (or prequel) to the eight-episode Netflix series Malibu Rescue, intended for tween audiences. Four high-schoolers from Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley strive to become a part of a summer Junior Rescue Program on Malibu Beach. They're met with resistance from the snobby Malibu teens who don't want to accept the "non-beach-city" outsiders into what has been a stronghold for the upscale coastal kids. The familiar "underdog" movie is family-friendly with low-brow humor, some potty language and mild swearing (i.e., pee jokes, fart sounds, belching, references to puking, "crap"), along with some insults: "butt-face," "wussbag," "fish turds." With the exception of one slightly suspenseful rescue sequence in which a child alone on a raft appears to be headed toward danger, the action is slapstick (falls, candy exploding in a soft drink, a chair collapses, a car chase). No one is hurt.
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What's the story?
Tyler (Ricardo Hurtado) is in trouble at school again in MALIBU RESCUE: THE MOVIE. Summer vacation is about to start. Tyler’s annoying stepdad remembers the time when, as a teen, he turned his life around -- in the Junior Rescue Program on Malibu Beach. A structured summer is the last thing Tyler wants, so when he’s sent to Malibu, joining a group of "Valley" kids on their way to train as lifesavers, he's already looking for a way out. Making things worse, the established Malibu Beach teen rescue team has a problem with the lowly Valley types invading their territory -- the insults and harassing are nonstop. Tyler, easily provoked, can't help but want to fight back. Along with Gina (Breanna Yde), a sassy swim champ; Eric (Alkoya Brunson), a Vallelyite eager to succeed; and Lizzie (Abby Donnelly), looking for some medical emergencies to conquer, Tyler leads The Flounders (the name given to this underrated team) on their quest for rescue mastery. Together they take on the arrogant bravado of Malibu Beach "royalty" and vie for the primo lifeguard station on the beach.
Is it any good?
The fact that the movie is brimming with cornball jokes, predictability, cartoon pratfalls, and one-dimensional characters doesn't mean that tweens won't like it; actually, most will. It's easy to root for Tyler and his fellow "Flounders," those put-upon kids from the Valley who are looking for both validation and a place at the rescuers table. Other than potty humor and some name-calling, it's inoffensive. The good guys are likable. The acting is purposefully broad -- especially the adults. And, though it has zero surprises, no nuance, and no shining moments, Malibu Rescue: The Movie is a comfortable and clear setup for the Netflix summer series that follows.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Malibu Rescue: The Movie as an introduction to the Netflix series that will follow it. Usually called a television "pilot," the goals are to set up the characters, relationships, tone, and style. A pilot often introduces the "origin" story, the central conflict for the series. Did the movie accomplish its goals? Will you watch the series? What about the movie intrigued you?
In some movies, locations and/or settings are considered "characters." How was Malibu Beach a character in this film? How did the specific locales dictate behavior and plot?
The filmmakers showed a commitment to making their movie family-friendly. Did you notice that even while most of the action takes place on the beach, there are no bikinis or skimpy clothing? With the exception of fart jokes and some potty talk and juvenile insults, there was no swearing. Does this matter to your family? How does your family determine which movies are okay?
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