Thrill Ride

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Thrill Ride Movie Poster Image
So-so treasure quest has some mild cursing, potty humor.
  • PG
  • 2016
  • 86 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Sometimes you do everything right and things still don't work out, but if you keep trying, they just might. You can't find someone else's happiness for them, they have to find it for themselves. "Normal" is boring.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kids Joy, Henry, and Truman work together to help each other. Joy and Henry help their dad by working in his antique shop and taking care of little sister Lainey. Dad Ben is a loving, caring parent who's trying hard to make ends meet but not having much luck. Esmerelda is a sea hag who's really not evil and who opens up when she's loved. Aubrey's an evil mermaid who wants to rule the world.

Violence

Fantasy violence: fights with enhanced magical abilities including punching, choking, pulling an arm off a bad guy (no blood or gore shown). A huge dragon spews fire and roars. Bad-guy pirates menace, fight with swords. A kid knocks a bad guy out with a hard blow using a tool chest. A villain uses a crossbow; the arrow goes into a kid's rear end (no blood and the kid's more outraged than injured). A teen is tied to a balloon wall and bad guys throw darts at him to get answers. Some scariness and peril from a rollercoaster-type ride in long, dark tunnels. Al Capone mentioned as a killer and bootlegger. In flashback, a man believes gangsters are going to kill him, played for comedy. Mild peril from a cattle stampede. A mummy, vampire, witch, and zombie are magically brought to life and recruited by the villain. Animatronic bears come to life and attack kids.

Sex

One kiss on the lips. A teen offers her captor a kiss but knocks him out instead. A kid wants a poster of a TV star in "something clingy." A fantasy flashback shows scantily clad women caressing a pirate. Skinny-dipping and nudity mentioned. Mention of human sexual reproduction resulting in birth.

Language

"Damn," "artsy-fartsy," "crap," "buttload," "poop," "sucks," "frickin'," "A-hole," "holy crap," "butt," and "ass." Name-calling like "idiot" and "snitch."

Consumerism

Lemon Pledge, Teddy Ruxpin, Annabelle doll, Angry Birds app, Bob the Builder, Ford Pinto, Care Bears, Six Flags.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Pirates sing a drunken sailor song while swaying and stumbling. A little kid asks her dad if he's been drinking again as part of a ploy.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Thrill Ride is an adventure story about three kids looking for one of Al Capone's many rumored hidden stashes of money and treasure. Fantasy violence includes fighting with magical abilities. There's some scariness from long, dark tunnels; a mummy, a witch, a vampire, and a zombie are brought to life, and animatronic bears come to life and attack the kids. "Damn" is used a couple of times, but the rest of the iffy language involves potty humor like "crap," "poop," and "buttload." There's one kiss on the lips between two kids, and mentions of skinny-dipping, nudity, and that sexual reproduction results in birth. Gross-out humor includes farting and eating live goldfish. The kids' mother passed away from an illness 18 months ago. 

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What's the story?

Kids Henry (Lucas Jade Zumann), his sister Joy, and his best friend Truman are in for a THRILL RIDE when they set out to find some of Al Capone's lost treasure in an old amusement park that's about to be torn down. Happyland is long rumored to be one of Capone's secret hiding places, so the kids take one last chance to head back there armed with new clues to the treasure's whereabouts. Unfortunately, an evil mermaid, Aubrey, wants the treasure, too. And she's got a cadre of pirate henchmen and the power to bring the Happyland attractions to life. The kids find an unexpected ally in Esmerelda, the Sea Hag (Kristen Johnston). Can they repair Esmerelda's magic wand in time to defeat Aubrey? And will they find the treasure and save the family business?

Is it any good?

A treasure quest and plenty of pirates and potty humor bring surefire kid appeal and make it easy for kids to overlook the cheesy effects and clichés that adults will see right through. Based on a story created by the director's son, it's no surprise that Thrill Ride has a lot of what kids want from a good adventure. But it's also pretty predictable and not very original -- traits that keep it from being a movie the whole family will enjoy together. It's fine for big-kid action/adventure lovers who can handle a couple of instances of "damn," a kiss, some fantasy violence, and a few mild scares here and there.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Thrill Ride. Does it matter if it's fantasy violence? How much is OK for movies, TV, and video games? Is it different for books?

  • How about the strong language? Do the kids talk like real kids do? If it's realistic, does that make it OK?

  • What other treasure-hunting movies have you seen? Which one do you like best? Why do you think we like movies about finding hidden treasure so much?

Movie details

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