A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Not specifically educational, but kids will learn a bit about environmentalism, plus some positive messages about friendship and bravery.
Tales of the Riverbank reinforces multiple positive themes -- friendship, courage, environmentalism, and the triumph of the underdog, particularly against the forces of capitalism and pollution, but it solves its ultimate conflict through tongue-in-cheek violence in the style of a blockbuster action flick.
Positive Role Models
The furry creatures featured throughout the film are largely a friendly and devoted, if squabbling, bunch.
Violence & Scariness
The film is full of animals in peril, but always to comic effect, devoid of scariness or emotional intensity. Scenes include dodging falling rock, avoiding crashing vehicles, engaging a band of enemy ferrets with explosives, and guerrilla warfare tactics. In one explicit scene, a ferret is killed by molten marmalade lava; in another, a central character crashes his plane into a lake, but survives.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A sassy, Southern-drawling damsel-in-distress of a mouse flirts with a rat, and drops a smidge of sexual innuendo when she asks him to show her how much chug he's got. Later, she pulls a Lauren Bacall and asks if her cohorts know how to blow up a hot air balloon? "Just put your lips together and..." A mouse and a rat nuzzle.
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The owl narrator frequently refers to many of the animals in his tale as stupid, but said in a British accent, it almost sounds complimentary. There is the occasional punned curse, such as "that son of a fish."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
No drinking, drugs, or smoking appear, but there is alcohol present in one scene: The furry creatures are shown to an underground "Fun Room" designed as a bar, with mixed drinks on tables and a full bar as part of the setting.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tales of the Riverbank is a clever, family-friendly British tale of animal adventure and rescue with a soft spot for the underdog, but it resolves its essential conflict through violence, albeit slapstick, cartoonish violence that never feels scary or emotionally intense. The film mimics the blockbuster action of buddy war flicks such as Apocalypse Now -- but its grown-up reference points are likely to fly right over the heads of young children. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Based on the long-running Canadian children's TV series, this scrappy British film adaptation manages to mix high and low comedy, and should appeal to multiple generations. The animatronic puppets are silly looking enough to qualify as camp, and the sustained peril they face and witty jokes are absurdly funny.
Kids will love watching furry creatures navigate an astonishing number of modes of transportation and natural disasters, even if the allusions are over their head, while parents will enjoy a flick for kids smart enough to incorporate sly nods to pop culture references only they can get -- a mouse doing her best Lauren Bacall, and the co-opted Apocalypse Now reference, "I love the smell of fresh marmalade in the morning." An excellent vocal cast doesn't hurt either.
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.