A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, despite its grounding in a well-known fairy tale, this movie is so smartly written that it may be a little intense for the usual fairy tale audience. An adopted baby grows into a typically rebellious teen, with all the normal familial tension of that stage heightened by the real predator/prey relationship of this particular son and his three fathers. There is real suspense in whether Lucky will be true to his family, or to his natural instincts. But the entire movie is leavened with sharp, funny visual humor and dialog.
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What's the story?
Told almost entirely in flashback, UNSTABLE FABLES: 3 PIGS AND A BABY flips the story of the 3 Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf on its head with smarts, humor, and a compelling plot. In this version, the wolves are regrouping after the tragic loss of Big Bad, and hatch a nefarious if slow-moving plan: they will imbed a baby wolf with the unsuspecting three pigs and, when the baby has grown up, will use him as an inside operative. What they fail to anticipate is the loving affection that the three adoptive dads have for their new son Lucky (voiced by Jesse McCartney), so strong that it allows them to completely overlook the fact that they are raising a natural predator. When Lucky hits his teen rebellion years, complete with a bad blue hair dye job and heavy metal music with lyrics like "Eat the pigs! Eat the Pigs," the Special Ops wolf force begin to woo him over with promises of acceptance and social stature (in the form of Teen Girl Wolf).
Is it any good?
This movie from The Jim Henson Company would work on visuals and comedic humor alone, but it hits it out of the park with its all-too-accurate reflection of the dynamics of raising teenagers. Scenes of Lucky and his best porcine friend, Hamlet, bemoaning their thick-skulled parents and the bullies at school make Lucky's flirtation with the dark side believable. Just as believable is the resolute optimism of Lucky's three very different pig parents, whose different approaches to parenting frustrate their son and each other.
The sidebar stories are just as funny as the main event, like the ongoing saga of the straw-house living surfer pig (Steve Zahn) and the effeminate wood-house living pig (Jon Cryer) and their efforts to motivate a bovine construction crew, which is constantly on lunch break because of their multiple stomachs. Other members of the departed Big Bad Wolf's crew include Wide Eyed Pacifist Wolf and Death Metal Wolf. Tweens, teens, and parents will be as amused by the sly verbal humor as the elementary set will be by the storyline and excellent animation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the atypical family structure of Lucky and the three pigs. Do their differences –- not just in appearance, but inward characteristics –- make it easier or harder for them to get along? Hamlet and Lucky come together in trying circumstances and stay loyal friends. Do you have friends in your life like that?
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