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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Along with all the positive messages of family loyalty and perseverance, comes the negatives: absentee parents, disobedient teens, teens who express dislike of their parents, and some rewards for negative behavior. The underworld depicted seems like a place of torment for everyone. There's also some very reckless teen driving -- Grover falls asleep at the wheel and almost gets hit by a semi, and later teens speed down the freeway in a sports car.
Positive Role Models
Percy is a poor student coping with dyslexia and ADHD who discovers his heroic qualities. He also adores his mom and does everything to save her. While Grover is a good friend, he's also played as a womanizer. Annabeth is a strong female character who's great with a sword. But the fierce friendship that these three forge makes a much stronger impression in the book.
Violence & Scariness
Battles with some mythological monsters are quite frightening. Some creatures are also demonic-looking -- like a gruesome fury, a giant Hades with skeletal wings coming out of a campfire, and scores of tormented fiery souls. Others are just large and violent, like a minotaur and a hydra with many snapping, fire-breathing heads. Medusa's head of snakes is severed and carted around. A car is thrown, limbs are hacked by swords, and two characters -- one monster, one human -- are impaled violently. There's lots of fighting amongst campers, with some blood (though Percy magically heals in water).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Gabe slaps Percy's mom's behind in front of Percy. Grover is all about the ladies -- he has a horde around him at a casino and asks jokingly, "Which one did I propose to?" after he tells Percy he's getting married. Persephone kisses Hades passionately, then turns her attentions to Grover saying, "I haven't had a satyr [pause] visit before."
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"Ass" a few times. "Highway to Hell" plays on the radio as the characters head for the underworld. A few uses of "God" as an exclamation. Plus insults like "bald-headed freak" and "little brat" exchanged between Percy and his stepfather.
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Products & Purchases
Converse All-Stars should have their own credit (even though the kind with wings that the movie's characters fight in aren't for sale). An iPod is also an important part of the story. Also shown: a Mac laptop and a sports car. Plus shout-outs to The French Connection (original) and Mick Jagger.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lotus flowers at the Lotus Casino are offered constantly to guests; they have a mind-altering effect that make patrons loopy and unaware of the outside world. Gabe drinks beer or asks for a beer in every one of his scenes. There are fruity-looking drinks at a bar in the Lotus Casino around teens.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie is an aged-up version of the Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief book that Common Sense Media recommends for readers 9 and up. Young hero Percy is now in high school rather than middle school; his satyr friend Grover loves the ladies; and a trip that Percy, Grover, and Annabeth take to a casino has a nightclub, a full bar, and trippy lotus flowers that all the patrons ingest (in the book, they play video and arcade games endlessly). Plus, the violence level is high for a PG-rated movie: Monsters are very frightning, especially the demonic ones -- like Hades aflame with skeletal wings and a fury sent to destroy Percy -- characters (monster and human) are impaled and slashed at with swords, and Percy's mom is crushed by a minotaur and taken to the underworld. After Medusa's head is severed, it's dragged along on the road trip to Hades. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Kids have been waiting for this movie adaptation for a long time; too bad they'll likely be disappointed, especially if they love the book series. The filmmakers had a great formula on their hands: Rick Riordan's fanastic story, which puts mythology in modern times, adds a bit of sass, and makes a hero of a dyslexic Everykid; Chris Columbus, the director of the first two Harry Potter movies, at the helm; some great monster special effects; and some great actors, even in the supporting roles (Pierce Brosnan, Thurman, Keener, Joe Pantoliano). But the script is a mess; too many liberties were taken with the original plot, which, with its search for the three pearls as the focus, now seems more like a Dora the Explorer episode with expensive special effects.
And the decision to make the main characters teens instead of tweens was a bad one. It keeps the three cross-country travelers from developing as friends on their quest. Annabeth is simply some hot girl who's great with a sword, and Grover puts all his energy into wooing the ladies. The book saga is a friendship tale at its heart, and that's just not here. And even if you're in it just to watch kids have fun slashing the heads off of a hydra or climb Mt. Olympus above the Empire State Building, the special effects work is uneven. The gods as giants look quite fake, making an important scene where Percy meets his dad fall flat -- but at that point most viewers will already be beyond being disappointed.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
Percy Jackson Book Series
Best Mythology Books for Kids and Teens
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate