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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mune: Guardian of the Moon is a French animated adventure (available in both English dubbed and subtitled versions) about a fantastical world where special guardians monitor and take care of the sun and the moon. The movie's dark, creepy villain could scare young or sensitive viewers, as could scenes in which it seems the heroes (and their people) are in danger or die. There's frequent peril, and some characters are treated harshly when they make mistakes; though all is eventually set right, that behavior might upset empathetic kids. While language is limited to insults ("moron"), there are several references to girls/ladies/flirting (including use of terms like "babe" and "doll") that at first make it seem like female characters are only there to save or impress. But eventually the main girl character, Glim, proves she's just as courageous and helpful as the two male main characters.
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What's the story?
MUNE: GUARDIAN OF THE MOON takes place in a fantasy world where creatures are either of the day or of the night, and both the sun and the moon have a specific guardian. During the special ceremony in which the newest guardians are to be named, arrogant, muscular Sohone (voiced by Rob Lowe) is selected as the new Guardian of the Sun -- as predicted. But somehow Mune (Joshua J. Ballard), a young faun watching the proceedings from the sidelines, is chosen to be the Guardian of the Moon, instead of the front-runner who was expected to take up the mantle. When the untrained Mune makes a mistake with the moon, causing night to start much earlier than it should, Sohone is convinced to leave his post to fix the problem ... not realizing he's leaving the sun unprotected. After villain Necross (Davey Grant), a fallen former guardian who's now evil, takes the opportunity to steal the sun, Mune and Sohone must work together, with a little help from Glim (Nicole Provost) -- a waxy girl creature of the "dawn and dusk" -- to head into the underworld and save their universe.
Is it any good?
This hero's-journey tale takes place in a wondrously original fantasy world that's best suited for older kids who can follow the complex plot. First-time director Alexandre Heboyan is a veteran animator who's worked on such films as Kung Fu Panda and Monsters vs. Aliens, and -- with his directing partner, Benoit Philippon -- has mixed animation styles to create an interesting landscape of day and night creatures. Some of the story's darker, more detailed parts may lose the littlest viewers, but the overall adventure is compelling enough for audiences to root for Mune, Sohone, and Glim to restore the harmony between night and day.
On the other hand, the light romance between Mune and Glim feels a bit unnecessary, particularly when it would have been just as effective to have Glim prove she doesn't need either of the guardians to make a difference. But they're so sweet with each other that it's ultimately charming. What isn't as charming are Sohone's many references to impressing girls, being good with the ladies, etc. Those comments start out feeling harmless but quickly devolve into eye-rolling interruptions to the heart of the story. Still, the overall plot of Mune: Guardian of the Moon captures the imagination and is unique enough to intrigue and entertain. It helps, too, that there are obvious positive messages about teamwork, courage, and friendship.
Talk to your kids about ...
There are several jokes about "the ladies," flirting, and girls needing to be protected. Do you think these comments are necessary? How does that tie in to gender stereotypes? How does Glim prove she's necessary to Mune and Sohone's mission?
Discuss the idea of balance/harmony and how it's central to the story. Do you think night is needed for there to be day, or the moon for there to be the sun?
- In theaters: August 12, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: September 26, 2017
- Cast: Joshua J. Ballard, Nicole Provost, Rob Lowe
- Directors: Alexandre Heboyan, Benoît Philippon
- Studio: GKIDS
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild action and rude humor
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