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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Positive themes are everywhere, driven home through visuals and dialogue, like when White Diamond says that with Steven's influence she says please and thank you even to lower life forms, whereupon Steven reminds her that they talked about equal life forms. Steven connects with and subdues a villain with empathy and compassion, and solves a dangerous problem through teamwork with his friends. A realistic ending finds that "there is no happily ever after," just fresh chances to work on what's wrong and celebrate what's right.
Positive Role Models
Steven is an exemplary role model, thoughtful, sensitive, kind, and strong. At the beginning of a seemingly hopeless task in this movie, a character says "That could take forever." "Exactly," responds Steven, "so let's get started." Each mostly female character in this show's universe is humanized and has good points and bad ones; they make mistakes, but learn from them -- in fact, learning from mistakes and struggles is a crucial plot point in this movie. Main characters treat each other with kindness and respect.
Violence & Scariness
Characters are in mortal danger in this movie, but the full weight of the danger doesn't really land as characters continue to scheme, sing, and joke around. Science fiction-style weaponry like a giant drill and a glowing scythe have scary powers. Characters have fights in which they are hurled into space or kicked long distances, but nothing seems to actually hurt except for at one point when Steven is hit in the nose and bleeds. A crucial fight involves an angry character fighting against one who merely defends himself and doesn't use force in return; the fight ends in peace and emotional growth.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Steven has a romantic connection with his friend Connie; at one point, she kisses him on the cheek and he blushes. Later, he sings a song into her eyes romantically. Two characters, both female, "fuse" into one (which fans have taken as a metaphor for a gay marriage) after a song about love in which they dance together and change colors when they touch.
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No cursing, but there are some exclamations: "Heck yes!" At one point one character calls another a "dingus," and there's a joke about an interrupted curse: "Holy sh--e really got everybody."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Steven Universe: The Movie is based on the world and characters of popular animated series Steven Universe. Like the show, the movie's content is aimed more at tweens and teens than young kids; Steven himself is now aged up to 16. There's frequent cartoonish violence, with characters hurled into space or "poofed" into cotton-candy like clouds, and viewers hear about mortal danger (i.e. characters have 37 hours to save the Earth) but only see a few drops of blood. One critical fight involves a character merely defending himself instead of fighting back at an angry enemy, which helps defuse her anger. Expect plenty of positive, heartfelt themes that are illustrated with visuals and songs about friendship, autonomy, and kindness; characters admit and learn from their mistakes. Romantic content includes a moment in which a female friend kisses Steven and he blushes; two female characters dance together and sing a song about love. Language is infrequent, but at one point a character calls another a "dingus," and there are two uses of "heck." Parents may want to watch along with kids -- and may be surprised to find depth and emotional intelligence in this uplifting movie. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Bright, colorful, and positively breathtaking in its emotional depth, this beautiful film is a worthy expansion of the animated series. Of the many things Steven Universe: The Movie gets right, Spinel is a fantastically humanized villain. She arrives as a hurricane of fury, smashing and slashing at any Universe-ian that gets close. And in most animated series, that's how she'd stay, a one-note villain subdued by force and vanquished by the end of the show, never to be heard from again. But here, she gets an arc instead. And, just like real people in real life, Spinel's anger is just a mask for pain. Abandoned, alone, what used to be hope and love calcified into rage. As Steven soon discovers (with help from Garnet, of course, in song), empathy and friendship is the key to turning the tide.
There are other interesting things going on here, too, with emotionally intelligent ideas driven home with gorgeous visuals. Fans will already know that Garnet was created when two gems merged. When returned to their original forms by Spinel, Garnet splits into Ruby (Charlyne Yi) and Sapphire (Erica Luttrell), which eventually leads to a stunning sequence in which they dance together, their pink and blue bodies merging into purples everywhere they touch. Pearl's transformation from a robotic assistant to her old snappy self is given heartfelt imagery too, as she and Steven's dad Greg (Tom Scharpling) rise into the sky, each playing their own guitar, singing how they can be independent, together. Tweens, teens, even adults will feel the love for this surprisingly deep adventure.
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.