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 Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex is a thrilling choice for Wizards of Waverly Place fans who want to know what's next for these popular characters. The kid-friendly content is on par with the show's, with only a few light-hearted battles between wizards and a werewolf transformation young kids might fret over. Alex is as endearingly imperfect as ever, and the fact that the story explores her misgivings about growing up and conforming to other people's expectations means that there are some good messages about individuality and self-confidence to be found amid those of friendship, family bonds, and thoughtful decision-making.
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What's the story?
In THE WIZARDS RETURN: ALEX VS. ALEX, the Russo family is busy planning a trip to Italy for a family reunion when newly crowned Family Wizard Alex's (Selena Gomez) eagerness to help winds up causing havoc instead. Tired of listening to her parents' admonishments to act more responsibly, Alex casts a spell to remove her selfish impulses, but accidentally creates an evil version of herself, who joins forces with a power-hungry wizard named Dominic (Beau Mirchoff) in an evil plot to rid the world of mortals. With the lives of her family and friends also on the line, Good Alex faces off with Evil Alex in a battle of wizarding wits and skills.
Is it any good?
This is a comical, entertaining, and immensely likeable Wizards of Waverly Place entry. Alex vs. Alex marks the TV return of almost the entire Russo family, marred only by the notable absence of Alex's older brother, Justin, who is said to be too busy at WizTech to join the others. With everyone else in place, though, it feels as though no time has passed between Alex's victory in the wizard competition and these new adventures, and she's still the same indomitable, slightly self-absorbed teen whose frequent blunders continue to cause headaches for her family.
Happily, this story addresses this biggest personality flaw head-on, with Alex pulled between her own desires and the pressure she feels from her family to become more responsible with her new Family Wizard title. Her comical attempts to solve the problem with magic spiral into one disaster after another (which will be no surprise to viewers familiar with the show), but the eventual outcome reflect both Alex's strong adherence to her unique identity and the maturing process she's learning to accept, striking a pleasant balance that has some good messages for her fans.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the the impact of messages about body image and self-esteem from celebrities like Selena Gomez. Do you ever compare your appearance to theirs? Are theirs realistic standards for you and your peers? How might the message be received differently if it was delivered by someone who didn't look so "perfect"?
Talk to your kids about your expectations of them with regard to behavior, school work, household chores, etc. What are the rewards for meeting these expectations? What penalties exist if they don't?
Alex finds strength in her family and in her friendship with her best friend, who accepts her exactly as she is. Who in your life always makes you feel good about yourself? How does he/she do it? How does having a positive self-image help you succeed in your endeavors?
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