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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Strike is a British stop-motion animation movie about a young mole named Mungo (voiced by Lizzie Waterworth) who dreams of being a footballer but seems destined for a career as a miner. The humor ranges from subtle jokes and sight gags to slapstick scenes and potty jokes (burps, farts, etc.). Villains are cartoonishly evil, while the heroes are nearly perfect. The young main characters are brave and smart, and they take on nontraditional gender roles. One scene could cause some tears (possible spoiler alert): A beloved parent is killed in a mine explosion. Viewers see the adult's face react as he realizes his imminent doom, as well as the child's fear and sadness as he realizes what's happened and then mourns his dad. Otherwise, the puppets' style and silliness mostly minimize the impact of the violent moments -- like a villain pointing a gun at the hero, characters being kidnapped, or a young mole using a fire ax to open a vending machine. There are brief kisses and a couple of double entendres (as well as insult language like "loser," "moron," and "idiot"), and one character uses her sexuality to influence a man to do her bidding. Along with themes of teamwork, perseverance, and courage, the movie offers kids clear messages about following your dreams and believing in yourself.
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What's the story?
In STRIKE, Mungo Morrison (voiced by Lizzie Waterworth) is a mole who dreams of being a professional soccer player. But his dad, Garth (Tom Turner), has been grooming Mungo to follow in his footsteps and become a miner. When a greedy gemstone mogul (Ken Stott) is angered by the town's resistance to sell their gold mine, a tragic accident occurs. Now Mungo must decide whether he should pursue his dreams or help his community.
Is it any good?
Trevor Hardy's stop-motion animation feature debut will likely have elementary age kids squealing with laughter. The childish puppetry is a bit misleading -- older kids might shy away because it looks like it's "for babies" -- but between the fart jokes and clever humor, Strike is an unexpected gem that even tweens will enjoy. Throwaway jokes and funny antics happening behind the main action make for an active watching experience, and even with their small, fuzzy mouths, every word that Mungo and his friends say can be understood.
The animation doesn't feel sophisticated -- but in this case, that translates as "attainable" rather than "amateur." In a best-case scenario, it could inspire kids to pick up their smartphones or tablets and make their own movies with stuffed animals and action figures. Strike's characters aren't likely to end up on lunch boxes or yogurt containers, but they're admirable nonetheless. And while the "I get by with a little help from my friends" message is tried and true, the movie's nontraditional gender dynamics are new and exciting. Two of Mungo's female friends are pros in typically male dominated spaces (engineering/mechanics, explosives). The fact that Mungo's best friend, Ryan (Naomi McDonald), is crushing hard on Maggie (Waterworth), a girl who knows how to work dynamite, is a refreshing touch. Like Maggie, Strike is a blast.
Talk to your kids about ...
How does stop-motion animation compare to other forms of animation you've seen? Which do you prefer?
How do the characters exhibit nontraditional gender roles? Why is that an important aspect of representation?
- On DVD or streaming: April 7, 2020
- Cast: Lizzie Waterworth, Ken Stott, Jordan Long
- Director: Trevor Hardy
- Studio: Indican Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Puppets, Wild Animals
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: December 3, 2020
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