A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Adventure Club is a Canadian import about three kids who are smart and passionate about science. Because one mom runs the local science museum (Saskatchewan Science Centre), and her dad, a beloved, but deceased grandfather, was an archeologist, the young "club members" have access to a wonderful array of artifacts and research material, as well as the freedom to explore. Once they find an unusual key, they're off and running. Their enthusiasm, however, hasn't prepared them for the presence of a stop-at-nothing villain who may be after whatever it is the kids find, and has a malicious plan already underway. While there are a few tense moments and situations (i.e., a dark prologue in which two men struggle, bullies, and a climax in which a central grown-up player is held captive), there is no violence and no real scares. The leading character's unmarried mom is living with a new boyfriend, and (spoiler alert: he's a conspirator and villain, making the relationship with Mom repugnant, and with the boy dishonest and predatory).Okay for middle grades and tweens.
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What's the story?
When their most recent experiment fails quite colorfully, the young members of THE ADVENTURE CLUB, a do-it-yourself organization for three budding scientists, are eager for another challenge. Especially Ricky (Sam Ashe Arnold), who has inherited both his mom's and his grandfather's interest in all things scientific. The curious Ricky scours his deceased grandfather's artifact-crammed den, looking for something to spark his interest. He finds just that, a hidden key, along with a blueprint for a building that just might be recognizable. After some reluctance, Sandy (Dalila Bela) and Bill (Jakob Davies) follow their leader in an unauthorized, after-hours search of the science museum that Ricky's mom, who's in charge, is barely keeping afloat. It's in the museum that they find their adventure, and along with it comes a secret room, a mysterious note, an ancient box that grants wishes, and Langley (Billy Zane), a crafty villain who is driven to find something he believes was stolen from him.
Is it any good?
The three central young actors are solid and engaging, but a sluggish pace, along with some hammy adult performances, hurt the otherwise earnest effort. And, while forgiveness is a virtue, it can go too far, as evidenced by some questionable storytelling choices the creative team has made in Adventure Club. (Wouldn't it have been more graceful -- and believable -- if Martin was a suitor rather than an already ensconced live-in "member of the family?") Kim Coates, as an eccentric collector of all things, and Gabrielle Miller, as Ricky's beleaguered mom, turn in strong performances, but watching the erstwhile villain try to upstage everyone else by chewing the scenery does nothing less than take the viewer out of the story every time he's in a scene. Still, as adventures go, it's amiable enough, with some nice comic moments and an appealing production design given its low budget. Wish-granting tales do have a universal appeal.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the scientific world as a springboard for fictional stories and adventure. Think about the all fields of science that involve exploration, discovery, and suspense (i.e., medical research, astronomy, or archeology as shown in The Adventure Club). List some of your favorite movies that have science at the core of the drama.
Forgiveness plays an important part in this film. What did you think about the resolution between Jane (Ricky's Mom) and Martin? Did you agree or disagree with Jane's ultimate decision? Why or why not?
Why do you think the filmmakers included the bully and his friends in this movie? What did it add to the story's mix of mystery and suspense? Or, may it have been used simply as an issue to make the film more relatable to the target audience -- kids?
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