Hilarious parody (if you can appreciate it)
I was surprised to see that this hilarious film was not better appreciated on Common Sense Media. In fact, the parent review didn't have any praise for the movie at all. So I looked under one of the suggested movies (Independence Day) and I got it: Common Sense Media loves Independence Day, apparently. In my opinion, Independence Day was so incredibly bad (but so bad it was mildly entertaining) that it took Will Smith to save it from being one of the worst movies ever. Independence Day was asking for a parody, and it sure got one. For everyone who says this is alien-invasion-movie satire, you have to get more specific; this is a parody of Independence Day. Of all of the directors who could have made this movie, it had to be Tim Burton. I was surprised finding out that this was a Tim Burton movie. Now here's part of the reason why people don't appreciate this as much as they can- like every Tim Burton movie I've seen, this film has a slightly creepy edge to it. However, this is the least creepy Burton movie I've seen- and the most funny. If your kids could sit through Beetlejuice, they could definitely handle this. I don't understand why this is being categorized as a "dark comedy" because it's not dark at all- it really is just a comedy.
This film takes Independence Day and capitalizes on its most ridiculous parts: all of the mini subplots, the alien spaceships showing up in the beginning of the movie, the speech from the president, and makes them hilarious through creative, original humor. The only part of Independence Day this movie didn't make fun of was the blatant product placement. That could have been really funny; I'm disappointed there wasn't a parody of that.
There's also a large all-star cast (this seems to be a recurring theme in good parodies, including two of my favorites, Galaxy Quest and Mystery Men); and so every performance is great and only adds to the humor. I especially liked the small performances by a young Jack Black and a very young Natalie Portman.
The problem with really appreciating this film is that you have to a) appreciate other great sci-fi parodies, such as Galaxy Quest, Mystery Men, and The Fifth Element, and b) realize that Independence Day is bad enough to deserve a parody. Otherwise, it's hard to get the humor.
As for showing this to kids, as I mentioned before, this is very tame for a Tim Burton movie. There's definitely some creepy parts with some severed body parts and weird surgeries, but they are so fake-looking and ridiculous that they end up being funny (especially a scene at the end where the heads of two characters who have just met, but always loved each other, say hilarious fake-cheesy dialogue and then kiss). There's a little innuendo, but again it's so blatant and ridiculous that it's funny. The violence involves a lot of shooting and destruction (or to quote the movie, "Kill! Annihilate! Kill! Kill! Kill!), but it's very comic-book-y. There's not a lot of language, but there is some alcohol/smoking related parts. There's an esteemed (but not really that smart) professor (played brilliantly by Pierce Brosnan) who somewhat ironically smokes a pipe constantly, and a hilarious stereotypical "hippie" character who is an alcoholic (or as she says ,"I am an alcoholic- but I haven't had a drink in three months"), and she discusses drinking (as well as aliens being peaceful) frequently. There is some other sporadic drinking and smoking throughout this movie, but no illegal drug use.
The other thing I would like to mention is that I don't get why everyone here is freaking out about this movie's "subversive plot"- it's a parody of Independence Day! It's way more hilarious than political, and kids rising up to save adults doesn't automatically make the movie "subversive". Did anyone call Terminator 2 subversive when the young John Connor teams with Good Terminator to save the world from Bad Terminator while Sarah Connor watches from the sidelines? I didn't think so! (Sorry, I'm actually not a Terminator fan and that was a terrible example. So how about all those bad teenage dystopian movies that multiply exponentially? I don't hear anyone calling the Hunger Games or Divergent subversive, even though they both involve kids killing each other and then adults. Do you get my point?)
So please, let's have everyone calm down and appreciate how funny this movie is.