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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Quackerz is an animated adventure about Chinese and Canadian ducks that must overcome their differences to save the sun from being harnessed by a selfish villain. There are situations that leave characters in peril, as well as fight scenes between ducks and between humans and ducks. Some of the fight sequences also involve weapons. While there's no swearing, the script includes lots of insult words: "dumb," "stupid," "idiots," "dummy," "quackpot," etc. -- as well as a few culturally insensitive jokes about Chinese ducks. Expect a few mildly suggestive lines and romantic jokes, too. Families who watch can discuss the importance of teamwork, cultural tolerance, and friendship, all of which are strong themes of the movie.
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What's the story?
QUACKERZ follows the Mandarin ducks, whose leader, Emperor Peng Li (voiced by Enn Reitel), has convinced his ducks they can't fly -- as a means of protecting his adolescent gamer son, Longway (Robbie Daymond), the prophetic "sun duck" (the special keeper of the sun, who's chosen every 100 years). When a group of Canadian Mallard ducks arrives in China, mistaking it for Hawaii, militaristic General Duckmus (Michael Gross) clashes with Peng Li, who's bound by cultural traditions to be hospitable to the unexpected guests. As the Mallards decide on their next mission, General Duckmus' daughter, Erica (Andrea Becker), begins a flirtatious friendship with Longway and encourages him to learn to fly. Meanwhile, on land, a mysterious woman hires two thieves to secure the legendary sun duck in order to capture the sun for her own selfish reasons.
Is it any good?
Amusing enough for kids but unremarkable for parents, this duck-themed adventure at least offers positive messages. The animation is colorful if mediocre, particularly when it comes to the humans. The voice cast -- mostly character voice actors, rather than big celebs -- is solid, and the storyline is fairly easy to follow, even if the legend of the sun duck isn't as well explored as you'd expect, considering the entire premise revolves around its importance. Confusingly, the accents range from British English (why would the Mandarin Emperor have a posh UK accent?) and American to Russian to vaguely Chinese, perhaps in an attempt to appeal to international audiences.
Part "chosen one" and part Romeo and Juliet story, the story and characters will make kids laugh -- especially the dimwitted thieves who can't get their evil benefactress' instructions right and the sparring leaders, who keep trying to one-up each other. And slightly older tweens may enjoy the budding romance that develops between world-traveling duck Erica and sheltered gamer Longway. Ultimately, Quackerz is harmless, kid-friendly fun, but it's the sort of thing parents will likely want to put on during a road trip or playdate, when they don't have to watch it, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Which characters are the role models in the movie? How do they positively influence those around them? What lessons could they teach young viewers?
How do the differences between the Mallard and the Mandarin ducks affect their ability to work together? How does the story encourage cooperation and teamwork? Why are those important character strengths?
Longway spends a lot of time with his tablet/games. How does that screen time help him, and how does it hurt him?
Did you notice any stereotypes in the movie's characters and/or dialogue? Why is that an issue?
- In theaters: June 3, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: June 14, 2016
- Cast: Michael Gross, Jesse Corti, Robbie Daymond
- Director: Viktor Lakisov
- Studio: Shout! Factory
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 81 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: rude and suggestive humor, and some action
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