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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Spooky Tale of Captain Underpants Hack-a-ween is a holiday special starring the characters from the popular Captain Underpants books, TV series, and movie. There's decidedly less potty humor here than in other Captain Underpants tales, which will likely be a welcome change for parents. And there's a very positive, prominent message about kindness and inclusion at the story's conclusion. With Halloween (or Hack-a-ween, rather) the theme, mild scares involving skeletons, bats, various monsters, and a creepy evil clown are the norm. In one scene, Captain Underpants suffers respiratory distress for a long time. The kids have little respect for adults, who rarely attempt to exert any control over them anyway. This chaotic story is an OK pick for kids, but adults may tire of its relentless pace.
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What's the story?
In THE SPOOKY TALE OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS HACK-O-WEEN, best friends Harold (voiced by Jay Gragnani) and George (Ramone Hamilton) love everything about Halloween, especially the costumes and the free candy. But when Melvin (Jorge Diaz) hoodwinks the town into canceling the holiday, the boys and their favorite skivvies-clad superhero, Captain Underpants (Nat Faxon), have to come up with a plan -- and fast! -- to save the day for themselves and their friends. Can Harold and George's Hack-a-ween do the trick and make sure they still get their treats?
Is it any good?
With a premise like that of the Captain Underpants saga, it's not surprising the utterly absurd detours this story takes on its way to the characters' happy holiday. The Spooky Tale of Captain Underpants Hack-a-ween is a lot like kids' frenzied energy levels on Halloween night, scurrying in all different directions at one time and causing a major sensory overload with the visual and auditory chaos. Of course, that's one of the things young fans love about the goofy characters and stories in the first place, even if parents don't quite get the same thrills from it.
On the upside, The Spooky Tale of Captain Underpants Hack-a-ween works in a meaningful message about inclusion and kindness that's an unexpected treat at the story's end. As George and Harold discover the root cause of Melvin's grudge against Halloween, they use the knowledge to make a positive change, not because it will set right the holiday woes but because it's the right thing to do. This at least is a welcome factor in an otherwise silly and over-the-top story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about grown-up authority figures. What examples of adults caving to kids' desires do you see in the story? What messages does The Spooky Tale of Captain Underpants Hack-a-ween send about how similar relationships work in the real world?
Is any content in this story scary? Do your kids like to be a little (or a lot) scared by the shows they watch, especially around Halloween? How much is too much in this regard?
What do Harold and George learn about being kind to everyone, even those who are different from them? Kids: How can you use their example to extend that same kindness to others? How does it feel when someone is kind to you?
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