A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Legends of the Hidden Temple: The Movie is a live-action dramatic retelling of a 1990s competition show for children. Yeah, weird premise, but somehow it works reasonably well. The stakes are high -- a trio of young characters are told that making mistakes during a temple quest can lead to death, and a "bad guy" seemingly dies after falling hundreds of feet down a waterfall. The quest itself is also fraught, with many scenes taking place in dark, scary locations and involving dangers that may spook young children: poison darts, vicious snakes, quicksand. A stone face with glowing eyes issues instructions, and a rebellious group of Temple guards reads as an ethnic minority whom we're told is bad but who don't behave much differently than the "good" guys. Kids call each other "dingbat" but learn to work together harmoniously. Brothers and sisters fight but are there for each other in the end. The Temple's theology is a mishmash of Mesoamerican theology with a smattering of Greek myth and magic thrown in; parents may wish to impress upon young viewers that it's all made-up nonsense.
What's the story?
Based on a 1990s Nickelodeon kids' adventure game show, LEGENDS OF THE HIDDEN TEMPLE: THE MOVIE finds siblings Sadie (Isabela Moner), Noah (Colin Critchley), and Dudley (Jet Jurgensmeyer) visiting a boring and cheesy theme park supposedly built around an ancient temple. Noah, long obsessed with the legendary Hidden Temple, suspects there's more to the park than meets the eye and gets the chance to find out when mysterious park host (and original game show emcee) Kirk Fogg gives Noah a strange map. Following the map leads the kids on a dangerous supernatural quest: Can they find the pieces of the Pendant of Life and put them back together, saving a lost civilization? Or will they fail and be trapped inside the temple forever?
Is it any good?
With plenty of touchstones for the series' original fans -- and rollicking kid adventure for the uninitiated -- this special is solid whole-family watching. Thirty-something viewers of the original game show may find themselves pointing and pausing to explain the significance of silver snakes, Temple guards, or a great big stone head that sets the siblings off on their quest by narrating the temple's backstory. Don't expect anything great on that front -- Olmec's (Dee Bradley Baker) reason for purposely turning his entire kingdom into stone turns out to be a conflict between his good son Zuma and his bad son Thak, even though we're never told exactly why Zuma's so good and Thak's so bad. Never mind, and never mind that Thak's a cardboard villain and he and his group of henchmen are primarily distinguished by face makeup and ragged costumes; this is a show about adventure, not emotion or realism.
There's adventure aplenty, too, with a new challenge awaiting in each room of the Temple: quicksand, snakes that have to be placed into empty spots in Medusa's hissing stone crown, a giant chasm that stands between the adventurers and the next quest -- not the mention the fact that Noah, Dudley, and Sadie have parents who are worried their kids are lost inside a crummy old theme park set. Bypassing each challenge is generally a matter of pushing a button or bravely attempting a jump rather than them using their wits, and everything works out predictably. But for nostalgia and Goonies-lite thrills, this production scores.
Talk to your kids about ...
How do Sadie, Dudley, and Noah demonstrate perseverance and teamwork in their quest to free Olmec's people?
Families can talk about reboots and retellings. Have you watched episodes of the 1990s show Legends of the Hidden Temple? Do you think a revisit was necessary? Why, or why not?
Families can talk about the legend behind the Hidden Temple. Is the story true? What is a legend? Why are many legends set in foreign lands? What does that say about the way this show's audience looks at people from another time and culture?
Themes & Topics
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