A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Secret Society of Second-Born Royals stars Andi Mack's Peyton Elizabeth Lee and has fantasy, adventure, and some violence. As a group of teenage "second-born royals" discover their secret superpowers and are trained to use them, the teens are put into perilous situations: They're shot at with lasers, thrown to the ground, hit by falling objects, and more. A dangerous criminal with the ability to move objects with his mind escapes prison and launches a deadly plot to kill the world's royalty. It will be up to the second-borns to save the royal families, even if that means eliminating the criminal. The teens learn about teamwork, friendship, and the value of traditions -- and also about betrayal and people who are willing to kill for their own purposes. There are some positive messages here that could hit home with younger viewers, including teen characters needing to master their own insecurities and learning to care about other people and spend less time online. The main character rebels against her own royal family, shouting "Down with the monarchy!" in public and sneaking into a club even though she's underage. There's mild flirting between the teen characters, and language is limited to "sucks" and "jerk."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Samantha (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) is a guitar-playing teenager who rebels against her small European country's monarchy, even though her sister is about to be crowned queen, in SECRET SOCIETY OF SECOND-BORN ROYALS. Sent to summer school, ostensibly as punishment for her troublesome behavior, Sam finds herself in a training academy with five other teenagers, all "second-born royals." They all have a special gene that gives them superpowers. The teens are told by their instructor (Skylar Astin) that they have to discover their individual powers and then learn how to wield them for the good of their country. Their training is interrupted when a highly dangerous criminal (Greg Bryk) escapes prison, and the second-borns are wrapped up in his evil plot to end all monarchies by killing the first-born royals. Sam doesn't know it yet, but the criminal has a personal connection to her, and his plot revolves around the coronation ceremony of her sister, Eleanor (Ashley Liao). The second-borns will need to work together in time to save the world's royalty.
Is it any good?
This is a great idea for a Disney franchise or series, but as a stand-alone film it falls a little flat. Though a narrator tells us this isn't your typical "princess story," Secret Society of Second-Born Royals does follow what feels like a formula of rebellious teen turned empowered superhero, complete with princess status (and ball gown). The diverse cast's teen actors are charismatic enough, but the script paints their characters in very broad strokes, relying on some superficial stereotypes to give them personalities (shallow Instagrammer, popular party boy, invisible guy, rebellious teen, etc.) and life problems that are too easily resolved. A key bonding scene, where the teens open up to each other, comes too soon, and an awkward "day off" montage later seems to want to compensate for that. This, along with other questionable decisions concerning the faux European setting and a mixed bag of accents, makes this film more likely to find an audience with younger viewers than with teens.
What might go over their heads, however, is the theme of questioning the validity of monarchies in contemporary societies. There are also some references to real life that younger viewers might not catch, including portraits of actual second-born royalty in a palace hall. One is of England's Prince Harry, who -- in a curious life-imitating-art twist -- renounced his royal duties.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different superpowers the teens discover that they have in Secret Society of Second-Born Royals. If you could have a superpower, what would it be, and why?
Sam rebels against her family's traditions and the idea of a monarchy, but seems to come around to understanding her sister's role and responsibilities. What do you think of the idea of royalty?
Did this film remind you of other superhero films or other Disney movies? Which ones?
- On DVD or streaming: September 25, 2020
- Cast: Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Skylar Astin, Olivia Deeble
- Director: Anna Mastro
- Studio: Disney+
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: May 11, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love superheroes
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
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.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch