Parents' Guide to

Mighty Oak

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Somewhat dark rock dramedy has drinking, strong language.

Movie PG-13 2020 102 minutes
Mighty Oak Poster Image

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Director Sean McNamara's dramedy features a gifted child musician, but it's also a confusing mix of "edgy" and tween-targeted content, trying to balance kid jokes with heavy themes. The reincarnation premise of this Kidz Bop-meets-School of Rock movie could have been much funnier, but instead it's occasionally off-putting as it makes Gina seem fixated on both her dead brother and Oak. At one point Oak even asks, "If I'm just Oak, can I still be in the band?" and audiences will think "no" even as Gina answers "yes." The dialogue includes noticeably heavy use of the word "s--t," as well as an unusual fascination with Oak's age-inappropriate love of coffee and a cringe-worthy focus on Pedro's attractiveness (see Raven-Symoné's supporting role as Taylor, who frequently objectifies him).

Those aged-up details are in keeping with Mighty Oak's darkest plot detail: the relationship between Oak and his mother, who's often seen passed out or sleeping with a needle and an array of prescription drugs at her side. Opioid addiction in America is serious, and including it here feels like a significant misstep. The heavy themes definitely make for a dizzying contrast with the humor and the focus on Oak as an innocent 10-year-old who happens to have a gift for the electric guitar and songwriting. No doubt some will consider the movie a heart-tugging crowd-pleaser, but it's so muddled with its tone switching that it's difficult to think of it as an uplifting family film. There is a happily ever after, though, even if it feels too little too late after all the angst, addiction, and reincarnation drama.

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