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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
You are the master of your own fate, and only you control your destiny. Learn to ignore what others think or say about you because people are full of prejudice. You have the capacity to dominate your own worst traits and cultivate your own mind through practice and discipline. Perseverance and self-control are themes.
Positive Role Models
Parents love their child unconditionally and are willing to put themselves in harm's way to save him. Friends withstand even the most powerful negative forces to help each other. Guardians protect their charges, even at risk to themselves. Characters stand up to bullying and negativity to learn their own self-worth.
Violence & Scariness
Animated characters of all ages and species are punched, kicked, set on fire, thrown in the air or sea, strangled, stabbed, crushed, swarmed by bees, eaten by monsters, petrified, doomed by curses, and otherwise threatened throughout the film. A master stores his weapons in his pants; at one point, he asks Ne Zha to reach in and grab something for him, which he does, and then accidentally sets the man's pants on fire.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some have interpreted a scene in which Ne Zha reaches into his master's pants (which are used to store weapons, including a spear) as being suggestive, but there's no indication that it involves personal pleasure, and the pants are treated more like a storage space than anything else. A baby is shown naked, and Ne Zha is shown peeing (no body parts seen).
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Language in subtitles translated from Mandarin includes words like "blasted," "fatty," "curses," "bastard," "idiot," "hell," "wuss," "moron," "bullcrap," "crapper."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character drinks a jug of liquid he doesn't realize is laced with medicine that will put him to sleep, and he's accused of being drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ne Zha -- the visually dazzling animated origin story of a character who's well-known in Chinese mythology -- has positive underlying messages (including perseverance and self-control) but also lots of fantasy violence and some emotionally taxing scenes. Younger or more sensitive viewers may be upset by the threats to a toddler-age character and his parents' tangible fear, including heart-wrenching screams when they think he's died. Characters are punched, kicked, set on fire, thrown in the air or sea, strangled, stabbed, crushed, swarmed by bees, eaten by monsters, petrified, doomed by curses, and more. A master stores his weapons in his pants; at one point, he asks Ne Zha to reach in and grab something for him, which he does, and then accidentally sets the man's pants on fire. Language is mild but includes some taunting, lashing out, and potty talk, with words like "bullcrap," "moron," "wuss," "crapper," "hell," "bastard," and "idiot." 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 fantasy was a huge box office hit in its native China, and its empowering messages and stunning visuals will make it an engaging watch for fans of the genre. That said, the storyline could be initially confusing to audiences with no connection to the Chinese legend of the powerful but cursed boy (he's a very familiar figure in China, however, with this film serving as an origin story), and the endless action and violence might prove tedious for parents or more critical viewers.
But there are some very positive lessons here about fitting in, learning self-control, and believing in yourself and your family despite others' preconceived notions, prejudices, or bullying. There's also quite a bit of humor in some of the exaggerated characters and sillier sequences, as well as pathos in Ne Zha's relationships and his attempts to control his demon nature. And the animation is dazzling, particularly scenes involving a painted landscape that characters can only escape by painting their way out.
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.