A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this imaginative tale of a rematch between the smug tortoise and perennially disappointed hare of folklore is filled with laughs and well-crafted lessons about the dangers of trying to win at any cost. The characters who have the most to learn are the parents, not the children for a change. Mariachi music accompanies two Mexican competitors whenever they are onscreen, and they speak in Spanish only (with subtitles).
What's the story?
Fifteen years after their first match-up, Murray Hare (voiced by Danny Glover) and Walter Tortoise (Jay Leno) are next-door neighbors and dads who can't stop replaying their famous race in their minds. When the Mt. Impossible Adventure Race looms, both Tortoise and Hare see it as a way of proving superiority, pushing their less-than-enthusiastic offspring into the race. As the stakes rise to comic heights, Crystal Tortoise (Keke Palmer) and Butch Hare (Drake Bell ) turn their perceived weaknesses into strengths and teach their fathers a lesson or two along the way.
Is it any good?
Once again the Jim Henson Company takes on a familiar fable and turns it into an entertaining, laugh-out-loud story that teaches lessons that reverberate long after the movie ends. The movie pulls off the trick of presenting excessive parental pride and ambition without making the parents unlikable, and thereby provides a gentle reminder without a lecturing tone. Tortoise's insistence that "slow and steady" is the right course of action in every situation drives his daughter crazy, but it's enabled Grace a comfortable lifestyle. And Murray's excitement in having Team Hare win the race comes at least partly from a deep-seated desire to make his son proud of him. Mothers aren't let off the hook either; snarky comments between the stay-at-home Mrs. Tortoise and her working-mom neighbor Mrs. Hare will register true with members of both contingents.
The action lags in parts as the race wears on. Most kids, however, will be too busy laughing to complain. The production company has a flair for making tiny details hilarious, from the glories and defeats of fellow competitors in the Mt. Impossible race to the antics of the film crew assigned to cover the action as it unfolds. The Fable Cable Sports Network broadcast team is aware of the dramatic bonanza that a race tragedy could provide, and are all-too-eager to call one that hasn't even happened yet. And while the lesson learned by the ultimate victors in the race may make Aesop cringe, you can't argue with its veracity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fathers' plan to have their children compete against one another. Why do you think it was so important to them? Were you surprised when Butch and Crystal started working together -- why were they a good team? Which of the challenges on the Mt. Impossible race would you like to try?
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