A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
More for entertainment value than educational purposes, but a few discussions about gardening and how bodily systems work are central to the plot.
Encourages family honesty, intergenerational closeness, and the repair of strained parent-child relationships. Reminds parents not to force their children to follow in their footsteps, to see their children as individuals. Emphasis on environmental awareness and diplomacy over conflict.
Positive Role Models
Various strong role models, including Meridian and Searcher, who are loving, supportive parents who accept and encourage their son. Ethan is curious, empathetic, kind. Jaeger apologizes for his past mistakes and commits himself to his family. Callisto is a fierce and commanding soldier. Characters demonstrate personality strengths such as courage, empathy, perseverance, teamwork.
The Clades (voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal and Gabrielle Union) are an interracial couple with a biracial, LGBTQ+ teen son (Ethan, voiced by Jaboukie Young-White). No one questions Ethan's crush on another boy, even his alpha male grandfather. Filmmakers and cast have made a point of saying that people like Ethan and his family exist in the real world, so it wasn't an issue at all for them to make him both interracial and gay. The Clades' dog has three legs, a subtle representation of a happy, loving, disabled dog. Additional diversity within supporting voice cast (Lucy Liu, Karan Soni, etc.). Writer and co-director Qui Nguyen is Vietnamese American. The plot is largely male-centered, but the two main women characters, Meridian and Callisto, are hyper-capable, tough, and courageous.
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Violence & Scariness
A few life-or-death close calls: in an aircraft, on an all-terrain vehicle, and just on foot in a seemingly hostile environment. The opening scene includes a sad moment when a father leaves his teen behind to finish a dangerous mission. In the undiscovered land, various people are nearly hurt by living beings; an aircraft is nearly irreparably damaged. A pilot is sucked out of an aircraft, but his presumed death isn't lingered on or discussed. Characters use a flamethrower and other weapons to defeat foes. The family is locked away when they pose a threat to the status quo.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Ethan's married parents kiss and embrace several times throughout the movie in a brief but loving manner. Ethan expresses romantic interest in his crush, Diazo, on a few occasions but is only seen speaking to him once. In one quick shot he's shown standing next to him in a side hug.
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Insults like "really bad dad," "I don't want to be anything like you," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Nothing on camera, but tie-in merchandise includes toys, figurines, apparel, and games.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink what looks like beer from bottles.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Strange World is an exciting animated sci-fi adventure that follows the Clades, a family of famous explorers who must put aside their differences to hunt down whatever is killing their town's power-providing plants. Inspired by retro sci-fi films, the movie features several life-or-death pursuits and close calls, including the death of a minor character and the use of a flamethrower and other weapons to defeat foes. The story has positive messages about the environment, diplomatic relations, and honest communication between parents and children, whether they're teens or adults. Teenage Ethan Clade (voiced by Jaboukie Young-White) is openly gay (although the word is never said) and has a crush on another boy. He's also biracial, but his identity isn't the movie's focus. It's just part of the general inclusivity of the cast, which has representation across categories of race, ethnicity, and disability (the family has a happy tripod dog). Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Gabrielle Union co-star. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This nostalgic homage to sci-fi adventures has a moving intergenerational storyline, positive diverse representation, and two adorable sidekicks. Filmmakers Don Hall and Qi Nguyen focus on the family relationships between Ethan, his parents, and his grandfather. The environmentalist-friendly story offers plenty of laughs and fuzzy feels courtesy of Legend -- the family's big, lovable, three-legged dog, who's boisterous and befriends everyone -- and Splat, the blob-like, featureless being that Ethan discovers in the seemingly magical world. (Both will absolutely add to the delight of younger and dog-loving viewers.) Although the plot is mostly man-centered, the two main women characters, Meridian and Callisto, are hyper-capable, tough, and courageous. Union particularly stands out as Ethan's no-nonsense, supportive mom.
Strange World's visuals are vibrant and cotton candy-colored as the new world comes to life around the curious Avalonians. The world-building includes peril at every turn, but, aside from one somewhat humorous implied death, the danger is never too overwhelming. It's disappointing that there's been controversy over the fact that the film includes Ethan's crush on a boy (and his family's complete support of that fact), which is roughly equivalent to the cute date depicted in Inside Out. If anything, Disney deserves credit for promoting an inclusive story that isn't preachy or overwrought. Because this isn't a story about a teenager coming out or being gay -- it's a story about saving your home and repairing generational relationships.
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.