A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The main character learns the importance of teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Lots of bullying. Adults are generally clueless or mean. Plays on stereotypes.
Violence & Scariness
Danny must contend with kids bullying him: calling him names like "loser," punching him on the top of the head, giving him wedgies, chasing him until he hides in the school restroom. Cartoon violence throughout. Some monsters may be too scary for younger, more sensitive viewers. Characters get shaken and thrown by tentacled monsters. Monsters capture humans by their brains, leave them hanging in the air.
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Danny almost calls a monster a "piece of s--t" before he's cut off. Liz tells Danny, "You suck." Mothman describes his favorite hot sauce as being hotter than "the fiery depths of hell."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Monster Zone (also known as Cranston Academy: Monster Zone) is an animated comedy-adventure in which a pair of young scientists opens up a portal to another dimension and unleashes an army of monsters on their school. There's violence throughout: The monsters throw characters around, tie up humans, and take them prisoner by leaving them hanging by their heads until they look like zombies. Some of the monsters could cause nightmares for younger/more sensitive viewers. You can also expect some bathroom humor -- including science projects centered on bodily fluids (poop, snot) and characters smearing plant pus on themselves to ward off bugs while in the monster dimension. The lead character, a science whiz named Danny (voiced by Jamie Bell), almost calls a monster a "piece of s--t" before he's cut off; "suck" is also used, and a character describes his favorite hot sauce as being hotter than "the fiery depths of hell." A trio of kids bullies Danny: They call him a "loser," punch him on top of his head, give him an atomic wedgie, and chase him until he has to hide out in the school restroom. Adults generally aren't much better: The teacher judging the science fair makes mean comments about all of the kids' projects except the one completed by her son (who's one of the kids bullying Danny). And when Danny leaves that school to attend an elite science academy in England, his professor is rude and disparaging of Danny and his efforts. There's some stereotyping. On the positive side, the movie shows how teamwork can be better than going it alone. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This animated movie manages to be just OK. It's a 3D-animated feature centered on Danny, a young science prodigy given the chance to attend a prestigious science academy in England, and the monsters he unleashes with the help of his roommate Liz after they fix an atomic particle reactor and open up a portal through which the monsters can enter our world and wreak havoc. There's a reliance on gross-out humor involving bodily fluids, and in the cruelty of bullies, either as kids or as authority figures. The humor throughout isn't memorable, but it's mildly amusing at times.
The animation and voice-overs are also fine, if not special. There's a positive message involving teamwork that's likely to get lost in the images of tentacled monsters throwing characters around, or slimy monsters drooling from their razor-sharp fangs, or humans captured by plants until their eyes attain a tell-tale zombie glow. The story does remain consistent, though -- unlike in the countless Pixar rip-offs released worldwide in the CGI universe -- and it's easy enough to follow. But there's nothing particularly remarkable about Monster Zone. It's neither good nor bad, and most likely to inspire little more than a shrug.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.