Family movie night? There's an app for that
Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids will learn about civic engagement and activism. They'll also learn about this rare British Columbia bear and a little about how a scientist went about proving it was a different species.
The strong message that even one voice can have the power to change the world if it's persistent and passionate enough. However there are some stereotypes here that stand out: the loggers are cruel and threatening -- even violent -- and other activists are called "freaks" who no one will listen to for dressing like hippies and protesting with signs on government property.
Positive Role Models
Simon Jackson's passion for his cause and his persistence in the face of adversity is admirable. Though there's one scene where he takes his parents' car without asking and is grounded. His friend Marcus shoplifts and the only repercussion is disdain from her father. Simon's mentor doesn't believe Simon can make a difference at first but then comes around to help him any way he can.
Violence & Scariness
A bear almost attacks Simon and then two bears fight each other. Simon is repeatedly rear-ended and then run off the road while driving, suffering a broken leg. Simon gets some threatening phone calls and emails.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
One kiss and some mild innuendo.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
"Hell" and "friggin" are said the most with a few emails to Simon shown that say "burn in hell." "S--t" may have been said once but it's barely audible; plus "bloody," "piss off," "hard ass," "a-hole," and "screwed you over."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Practically an ad for the band The Trews. Simon gets tickets and is invited on stage to speak.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this uplifting movie about a teen activist who started "the world's largest environmental network of young people" will be of interest to activist tweens and up. Except for some language -- mostly "hell" and "friggin" -- and a car getting run off the road, the content is pretty mild. One long scene plays out like a big ad for the band The Trews as the band plays a song and then invites Simon on stage to talk about saving the spirit bear's habitat. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
SPIRIT BEAR is sure to speak to activists who think they're too young to make a difference. Simon's a wonderful role model for kids. On that level this true story is highly recommended.
As far as the quality of filmmaking goes, though, it could use a little spit and polish. The trying-to-be-hip peppy soundtrack cuts in and out jarringly and the storytelling jumps around some. Some characters are a bit too one-dimensional, like the politician (Pamela Sinha) and the logging company president (Ed Begley Jr.). But all in all it's still fine family entertainment that will get kids thinking about what they're passionate about.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.