A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that P.U.N.K.S. is a predictable "kids-face-bullies" offering with continuous cartoon violence: stun guns, electric shocks, brawling, chases, falls, threats, and gunshots. No one is severely injured or killed, though in one key scene the young hero's father is really badly beaten. Scientists are shown experimenting on sedated prisoners and other unwilling subjects. Mild insults are plentiful, but there's no swearing. Product placement is nonstop. Though scientific advancement is at the core of the story, any relationship to real science or technological information is absolutely accidental.
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What's the story?
Good guy scientist Patrick Utley (Randy Quaid) has created a robotic "augmentor" that will be able to alleviate paralysis by stimulating otherwise unworkable muscles -- a monumental medical achievement. His boss at Crow Industries (Henry Winkler) wants to get rid of Utley and, instead of using the augmentor to benefit mankind, sell the device to the highest foreign bidder as a weapon. Desperate for his overworked father's attention, Drew Utley (Tim Redwine) spends a day at the lab and discovers Crow's evil plot. He calls upon a team of his misfit friends -- a mechanic (Jessica Alba in an early teen role), a computer nerd, and a con artist -- to save his father and the augmentor. The kids sneak into the lab, steal the invention, and comic mayhem ensues as they attempt to save the day.
Is it any good?
P.U.N.K.S. is beyond silly; special effects are amateurish; logic is nonexistent. There's not a single adult with a modicum of common sense to be found. Highly classified government secrets are unprotected; industrial facilities are unsecured. Electrical shocks are administered countless times to a variety of subjects.
Arch and ridiculous, Quaid and Winkler overact with relish -- kids will find Winkler hilarious when he's attached to the augmentor. Thsi is a definite time waster with laughs to redeem it, slightly.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss what it feels like to be bullied. How can you deal with kids who tease or torment you or other kids? Why do you think some kids bully others?
How can you tell when the violence in a movie is meant to be funny? In this film both kids and adults are subjected to multiple electric shocks and stun guns. What would happen if those were real?
- In theaters: January 5, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: February 15, 2005
- Cast: Henry Winkler, Jessica Alba, Randy Quaid, Tim Redwine
- Director: Sean McNamara
- Studio: Unapix Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Robots
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action/violence, mischief and mild language
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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.