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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend is an interactive movie that continues the storylines and characters from the show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The interactivity comes in the form of pauses in the narrative when viewers are prompted to take a situation in one direction or another, choose your own adventure-style. They can also make no choice and let the story move ahead on track. As in the original series, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) has a dark backstory: She was kidnapped as a teen and held for 15 years by a cult leader. There aren't any flashbacks to her imprisonment, but we do see a group of women screaming and banging on the windows of a van. Despite this background, the movie is unfailingly positive and funny, with Kimmy and others demonstrating gratitude, perseverance, and integrity. Violence isn't frequent, but there's a scene in which one character holds another at gunpoint (viewers can choose to "splode" the character and have Kimmy shoot him with a flamethrower), and another in which someone robs a bank at gunpoint. Both are played for laughs and aren't tense or scary. Expect plenty of sexual jokes, including one about Mary Poppins "shagging" the children she cared for, and someone is mockingly compared to a "glory hole." Sexy visuals are confined to a silly kissing scene between Kimmy and her fiancé (Daniel Radcliffe) and a dream that involves a come-on from a beautiful model. Adults drink socially, and Kimmy and her friend Titus (Tituss Burgess) are unwittingly dosed with hallucinogenics, resulting in visions. Language is infrequent but includes "bitch," "s--t," "ass," "dammit," and four-letter sound-alike words like "fudgin'." Strong women anchor the cast, which is diverse in terms of age, race, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, ethnicity, and body type.
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What's the story?
Continuing the story that originated with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT: KIMMY VS. THE REVEREND is a feature-length adventure that pits Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) in a battle of wits against her former kidnapper and now imprisoned arch nemesis "Reverend" Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm). On the eve of her wedding to Prince Frederick (Daniel Radcliffe), Kimmy discovers clues that cause her to suspect that the Reverend held more than one group of terrified women in an underground bunker. She understands that she must try to wrangle information out of the Reverend, and then hit the road to find the bunker. Her best friend Titus (Tituss Burgess) joins her on the journey, despite being cast as the lead in an action movie, while Jacqueline (Jane Krakoswki) stalls on the set. Will Kimmy be able to save the Reverend's victims and get back to her wedding on time to wear either a fancy or fun dress? In this "choose your own adventure" interactive feature that pauses at intervals to allow the viewer to direct the narrative, the choice is yours.
Is it any good?
Wild, colorful, and joyful, this exhilarating exercise in "choose your own adventure" television is as stuffed with jokes and lovable characters as the series that spawned it. In an adventure that reads much like an extra-long episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, pretty much every character we've met in the Kimmy-verse shows up for a few moments in the fractured narrative (even Buckley and Xan!) along with a few new ones -- chiefly, of course, Kimmy's fiancé, Prince Frederick. Daniel Radcliffe presents himself admirably, festooned with cartoonish medals and gamely offering to either do wedding planning with Kimmy or make out with her, her choice -- or, as it turns out, ours. That's one of the moments in which the action pauses and we're offered the choice to let the couple make out, keep them busy with their seating chart, or allow Kimmy to make a phone call.
Making a choice one way or the other sends the viewer down some exceedingly strange and enjoyable rabbit holes, and the format allows you to return to former choices and make a different one. Or you can speed through the narrative in a straight line by letting Kimmy make the choices for you. In one go-round, selecting the option to listen to a recorded message from Dona Maria's culinary company winds up with Kimmy sitting through a complete Mexican food-centered rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas." Another set of choices lets you watch (priceless, delicious) Titus Andromedon make a fool of himself onstage at a redneck bar, or perform a spine-tingling rendition of "Free Bird." There's only one choice you really must make: Clear room in your schedule for this fresh, funny entertainment experience. It's worth it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the interactive elements of Kimmy vs. the Reverend. Did you experiment with your choices? Go back and forth to see what you'd missed? How many scenes do you think you watched twice? What was most (or least) satisfying about watching a show this way? Do multiple viewings yield rewards?
Are the female characters in this show remarkable for positive reasons? Could any be considered relatable role models? If so, why? In general, how are women cast in comedy series and movies?
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