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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Teaches basic facts about naked mole rats, e.g., they live underground in tunnel colonies and have a queen. Sneakily defines words like "epidermis," "oxymoron," and "proclamation" using humor and song. References famous paintings when the moles are doing a musical number in the "Moleseum." One scene mixes live action with animation to give young viewers an example of a live musical theater performance.
Main themes place importance on self-expression, standing up to peer pressure, and not being afraid to share your individual gifts with others. One song's refrain is "if something hurts someone, don't do it; if it's fun, get to it." More nuanced lessons include not being able to run away from your problems ("If I go away, will the problem go too?") and accepting ideas that are different from your own ("Change doesn't have to be a crisis, it can be an opportunity").
Positive Role Models
Main character Wilbur is a nonconformist who stands up against peer pressure for what he believes in. He also models high emotional intelligence by telling those yelling at him that they hurt his feelings. The colony is a matriarchal society led by queen Grand-Mah. She proves to be a wise ruler who is open to new ideas, proclaiming that "change doesn't have to be a crisis, it can be an opportunity" but also to be sure your actions aren't hurting anyone.
Characters are all naked mole rats but they come in a variety of shades from beige to dark brown, giving the impression of many ethnicities, and are described as being from "around the globe." They are a matriarchal society led by their venerable grandma who originally dug their underground colony. At one point, it cuts to live-action footage of different real-life families watching from home; the majority are people of color. Much of the cast, including the main character, are voiced by people of color.
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Violence & Scariness
Wilbur's friends are upset about him opening his own clothing store and try to pressure him to stop. At one point one of them yells at him, making him tumble backwards and fall. He responds by telling her, "You hurt my ... feelings."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience is a rock 'n' roll story with a significant message for today's audiences. It's based on the hit children's book, and subsequent live musical, created by Mo Willems. As the title would suggest, the naked mole rats talk about being naked proudly and often (in a completely nonsexual way, of course). The main character, Wilbur (voiced by Jordan Fisher), is a nonconformist who stands up to peer pressure for what he believes in. He also models high emotional intelligence by telling those who briefly yell at him that they hurt his feelings. The characters are all naked mole rats, but they come in a variety of shades from beige to dark brown, giving the impression of many ethnicities, and are described as being from "around the globe." 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 raucously fun special strikes the perfect chord by preserving Willems' charmingly simple illustrative style while delivering musical numbers that are supremely satisfying. Giving the genius of Mo Willems the 3D-animated treatment for the first time is no small task, especially when there's already a successful live musical to live up to, but Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience does it with apparent ease. As any fan of Mo Willems would expect, it's clever, funny, and tenderly endearing, and there's even a trademark cameo in there too. As in his books, the humor here is playfully varied, using word play, site gags, and subverted expectations around every turn -- basically everything young kids will love. Mix that with ridiculously good lyrics, melodies, and vocal performances, and every minute of this story is kept fresh and enthralling. Which is a very good thing, because there are important themes of self-acceptance, open-mindedness, and standing up to peer pressure layered into all the silliness. This is a special you'll want your kids to watch again and again.
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.