By Andrea Beach,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Cartoon adventure with iffy stoner character falls flat.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Keep going no matter how hard things get. Eventually you'll grow up, probably when you least expect it. Iffy body-image message when Eva, the main love interest, is told several times that she's fat and should try Pilates.
Positive Role Models
Ajar and Pitt are good models for perseverance, friendship, and loyalty. They and Eva model a spirit of adventure and being open-minded about those who are different.
Violence & Scariness
Cartoon snakes use their tails as arms and legs to slap, punch, choke, and kick. One character repeatedly hits another with a rock. Characters in peril from drowning, being chased by the villain, and kidnapping. Bullies strafe their victims with hard, sharp projectiles. Border patrols verbally harass, kick, and threaten to kill. Some bugs crushed by a falling boulder. Slightly gory, very brief glimpse of a cartoon snake's skin tearing as the start of shedding. One scare as a security guard jumps out of hiding. Eva's held captive by a snake charmer, where she's forced to join the troop of performers.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple of quick kisses and offscreen kissing noises. Some sexual innuendo, like when a man is heard urinating offscreen and Gary asks Ajar if he's "into this somehow" while wiggling his eyebrows. A dance fantasy shows an image similar to sperm fertilizing an egg. George makes unwanted advances on Eva such as pulling her toward him and embracing her; she slaps him to get away.
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"Booty," "poop," rare name-calling such as "bed wetter." "Flip the bird" used literally about turning over an upside-down bird. Some verbal aggression and hostility.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Sidekick Gary is a stereotypical stoner, constantly seeking and once inhaling "pollen." He frequently asks people if they have pollen and begs the border patrol not to tell his father he's had some. Other characters are matter-of-fact and don't talk about it at all. Played for comedy, his desperation drives him to snort sand once. Pollen glows enticingly from flowers, and after he inhales some he acts more normal. In the end he's tempted again but is able to resist, without any explanation or discussion.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sahara is a computer-animated 2017 Netflix original adventure story about two snakes from different tribes who fall for each other despite their different backgrounds. Sidekick Gary is a stereotypical stoner who always wants "pollen," accidentally snorts sand, and inhales "pollen" once. Cartoon violence includes kicking, slapping, punching, and choking. A few brief kisses and some sexual innuendo are likely to go over little kids' heads. Ajar is bullied by others of his tribe, and there's some verbal aggression and hostility from the bullies and the border patrol. Expect some name-calling and an iffy body-image message when Eva, the main love interest, is told several times that she's fat and should try Pilates. Weak positive messages are lost in the end.
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Based on 52 parent reviews
Terrible messaging for kids
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What's the Story?
In SAHARA, Ajar (Robert Naylor) is a desert snake and Eva (Angela Galuppo) is a jungle snake, each living with their own kind close enough to the border between the two. They're both fed up with the confines of their own world and want to escape to explore the larger world. After an accidental meeting being chased by the border patrol, they decide to head off together in search of adventure. Eva's promptly kidnapped and held captive by a snake charmer and forced to join the troop of performers. Ajar, his friend Pitt (Daniel Brochu), and Eva's brother Gary set out to find and rescue Eva. But the Sahara is vast and full of dangers. How will they ever find her?
Is It Any Good?
Interesting visuals and engaging characters aren't enough to save what could have been a fun, slightly romantic adventure. Sahara's downfall is the weak story. The plot clips along at a pretty good pace, but nothing's explored in any depth, the characters don't change or grow, and anything that needs to happen to move the story along appears conveniently from out of nowhere.
The abrupt ending doesn't reveal what becomes of the characters or provide any resolution or reinforcement of weak messages about friendship or perseverance, and using a funny character to acknowledge that doesn't help. Gary, the drug-seeking "stoner" character, makes this inappropriate for little kids, but it's also too juvenile and shallow to hold the interest of kids who can handle the no-big-deal attitude toward his "pollen" fixation.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what "pollen" is in Sahara. Is a "stoner"-type character OK in a kids movie? Does Gary make using drugs seem cool?
Are any other characters stereotypes? Which ones? Are they harmful?
Lots of characters use slapping and punching to solve their problems. Why doesn't that work in real life? Does it matter if it's done by cartoon characters?
- In theaters: February 1, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: May 12, 2017
- Cast: Robert Naylor, Angela Galuppo, Daniel Brochu
- Director: Pierre Coré
- Studio: Mandarin Films
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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