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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Main Event pits an 11-year-old wrestling fan named Leo (Seth Carr) against an army of gargantuan grapplers in a competition for a life-changing prize. A recently departed parent (in this case by abandonment, not death) sets the stage for the story. Be ready for lots of wrestling: It's exaggerated, ring-pounding comic mayhem. Contestants, including Leo -- whom kids will root for and identify with from the get-go -- are thrown, slammed, pinned, and careen through the air (no one is hurt). Insults like "nerd" and "worm" are used, and there's one gigantic farting session. School bullies intimidate, chase, and tease the heroes. Featuring an array of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) performers, some heart-tugging moments, and a hip, flirtatious grandma, this is an old-school, low-budget production. The "special" effects are pretty basic, but, in a way, that adds to the fun in this warmhearted middle-school fairy tale.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Poor Leo (Seth Carr), nothing’s going right for him in THE MAIN EVENT. He’s 11 and small for his age; his mom has recently abandoned the family; the household finances are at a low point; and three obnoxious bullies are out to get him and his two nerdy friends. The only bright light in his life is his passion for wrestling. So, when he’s on the run from his tormentors and finds a legendary (and very smelly) wrestling mask at an “estate sale” where he's hiding out, it’s the perfect recipe for a little magic, actually, a LOT of magic. And, just in time for an amateur wrestling competition with a prize of $ 50,000 cash and a WWE contract, Leo is transformed into the fearsome "Kid Chaos."
Is it any good?
In this familiar story, there's enough adorableness (hero and friends), excitement (outrageous wrestling matches), and magic to engage young audiences who love watching underdogs soar. In The Main Event, all the usual elements are there: the bright, pretty girl who the whole school has a crush on; three bullies who pump themselves up by deflating the nerds; a Goliath-wannabe wrestling opponent; and a dad who doesn't quite know how to bond with his son after the devastating departure of his wife. Leo even has his own teachable moment when he gets too full of himself and almost blows his chance at being a budding school star.
The movie has a "homemade" feel -- rudimentary special effects, less-than-stellar acting from some -- but there's lots of rooting interest, some funny moments, and the audience is right there with Leo when he realizes he doesn't really need the mask to be special.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Main Event addresses bullying. Did Trevor and company ever pay a price for their behavior? How did Leo, Caleb, and Riyaz effectively deal with the bullies? How does your school or community advise you to deal with bullying? What can bystanders do to help discourage bullying? Why is that important?
Movies intended for families feature grieving about a recently-departed parent, in this case a mom who has abandoned her son. How does that element immediately help identify the emotional place in which we find a character? How does it help set up the relationship with the character's surviving parent? How was Leo's relationship with his dad dependent based upon their recent grief? How did the story help resolve that relationship?
What is the meaning of the word "underdog" as it applies to movies? Why are underdog movies so appealing? What emotions do they inspire? Name a few of your favorites, both animated and live-action. Create your own underdog character. Write about or draw the character and show how he or she ultimately "wins."
- On DVD or streaming: April 10, 2020
- Cast: Seth Carr, Tichina Arnold, Adam Pally
- Director: Jay Karas
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: May 12, 2020
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