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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ratchet and Clank is a snarky, self-referential animated movie inspired by the popular PlayStation video game franchise. The movie has a little less edge than the games -- there's not much in the way of language or innuendo -- but there is some body humor (barfing, etc.) and plenty of cartoonish violence: Think space battles, explosions (including planets), blasters, and peril. While it's not particularly original -- and it has so many jokes about wanting to be super famous that you might want to talk with your kids about that theme afterward -- it does offer lessons about humility and doing the right thing, as well as the value of friendship and teamwork.
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What's the story?
Maniacal villain Chairman Drek (voiced by Paul Giamatti) is on a tear in RATCHET AND CLANK, destroying planets and taking bits of each one to build his vision of a perfect whole. But the Galactic Rangers are on the case, as is Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor), a lombax who works as a mechanic but has a big heart and an even bigger yearning for superhero-hood. His dream just might be realized when the Rangers put a call out for a new member -- aided by Clank (David Kaye), a "defective" robot, Ratchet might just get the chance to make his mark. Ratchet's role model is Captain Quark (Jim Ward), who leads the Rangers but is thirsty for an even brighter spotlight. Drek takes advantage of this and manages to lure Quark to the dark side; will right prevail over might?
Is it any good?
This movie is fun and will no doubt appeal to audiences familiar with the PlayStation video game franchise it's based on. But it sure isn't deep, and its heartfelt messages about teamwork and doing what's right are somewhat diluted by an insistent sarcastic streak that, though funny at first, ultimately grows a little tiresome. The beauty of 3D, when done well, is that it can elevate a story with stunning graphics. But in this case, it feels a bit more like an afterthought. Ratchet and Clank plays like, yes, a video game: enjoyable but also forgettable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Ratchet and Clank says about fame and fortune. The galaxy rangers are keenly aware of their popularity: Does that affect how they do their jobs? What are the pros and cons of being famous?
Does the fact that much of the movie's violence is cartoonish affect its impact? Are different types of media violence "better" than others?
Is Ratchet careless, enthusiastic, or a little bit of both? Is that okay? Do you consider him a role model?
Fans of the games the movie is based on: Which do you like better? Why? What did they change for the movie? What would you have done differently?
- In theaters: April 29, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: August 16, 2016
- Cast: James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward
- Directors: Kevin Munroe, Jericca Cleland
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Space and Aliens
- Character Strengths: Courage, Humility, Teamwork
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action and some rude humor
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