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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero centers on three young friends who are middle-school students by day and multidimensional heroes by night. This highly imaginative series will appeal to tweens because of its improbable and hilarious scenarios as well as the enviable camaraderie among the three main characters. There's some cartoon violence in every episode, though it varies greatly depending on its setting and surrounding characters, but no one's ever seriously injured. Expect some mild body humor, including multiple "butt" jokes, as well as some fairly menacing creatures such as dinosaurs and zombies that might frighten young kids. On the other hand, there are excellent examples of friendship and teamwork as well.
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What's the story?
PENN ZERO: PART-TIME HERO is an action-adventure series about an average suburban kid named Penn Zero (voiced by Thomas Middleditch) who moonlights as a fighter of injustice. Each day after school, Penn and his best friends, Boone (Adam Devine) and Sashi (Tania Gunadi), travel to another dimension to help innocents in need. From a land of stuffed animals to an underwater kingdom of merpeople, there's no telling where the intrepid trio will end up -- or what they'll look like when they arrive, since they transform to blend into their surroundings. Unfortunately, though, so does Rippen (Alfred Molina), their school's art teacher who has a side job of his own as a part-time villain and the show's main antagonist. No matter where they are, though, this team of heroes will find a way to save the day.
Is it any good?
Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero is clever, creative, and so genuinely fun to watch that its audience won't be limited to the tweens it targets. With an ever-changing set of totally unpredictable dimensions and scenarios, it's impossible to guess what any given episode holds in store for Penn, Boone, and Sashi, and that's part of the fun. Even better, it's equally hard to imagine how they'll look from one episode to the next since traveling between dimensions also demands that their appearances adjust accordingly, often with hilarious results.
At the heart of it all, though, is an appealing camaraderie among the three kid heroes, who illustrate many aspects of successful teamwork. Penn is a born leader, even if he doesn't always have the right answers; Boone is insightful and easy-going; and Sashi is tough and thinks well on the fly. Together they prove that even the best-laid villainy is no match for their combined courage and determination and that friendship is a powerful force for good in any realm.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes a hero. Does it have to be someone who saves the world, or can lesser accomplishments be considered heroic, too? What can role models teach us about how to act in everyday life?
What makes Penn's friendship with Boone and Sashi so strong? Do they share other similarities besides their heroics? What examples do you see of their being less than perfect? How do they help each other through their stumbles?
Kids: How does this show's unpredictability make it fun? Which similarities exist from one episode to the next? Which is your favorite setting for a story, and why? Where would you zap the characters if you could?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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