The Washington Post
Common Sense Media
What parents need to know
Solo: A Star Wars Story
(PG-13) Age 10+ Satisfying, action-packed prequel explores Han’s roots.
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is a stand-alone adventure about a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) that takes place several years before he teams up with Luke and Leia in “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” The movie reveals details about the infamous smuggler’s past — like how he became the captain of the Millennium Falcon and how he met legendary characters like Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). Expect lots of peril, chases and action violence, including scenes of large-scale ground warfare as well as executions, shootouts and torture. Although there’s not much blood overall, characters do die. There’s also a bit of language, some drinking in pubs and innuendo (plus more kissing than is typical for a “Star Wars” film). Han definitely isn’t always first in line to make the morally right choice, but ultimately the movie has messages about equal rights for all creatures and the importance of teamwork, communication, courage and friendship. And the cast is noticeably diverse, with many female characters, people of color and creatures who have distinct backgrounds and ideas. (143 minutes)
Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures (TV-Y)
STREAMING Age 5+ Friendship, fun, marketing tieins in likable Barbie show.
“Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures” is an animated series starring the characters, settings and accessories from Mattel’s Barbie line of toys, games, clothing and more. As such, commercialism is the biggest concern for the young target audience. The stories themselves are likable and show Barbie, her sisters, her parents and her friends dealing with a challenge or adventure of some sort that requires a team effort and some ingenuity to overcome. Barbie addresses viewers directly through the guise of vlogs she records and shares, so electronics are visible throughout the show. This is a classic know-your-kid situation; if yours is prone to the gimmes when TV and merchandise cross, then you might think twice about the show. (Eight approximately 22-minute episodes)
Via Netflix streaming. Little Women (TV-14)
STREAMING Age 9+ Strong female characters shine in classic book adaptation. “Little Women” is based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. The story is set in the 1860s during the Civil War, so the realities of illness, death and poverty creep into the emotional tale. One main character is a forward-thinking young woman who challenges gender norms of the time, to the confusion and chagrin of the more traditional characters around her. Another suffers a life-threatening illness, which causes her family much sadness. Alcott’s beloved story is known for its prominent themes of family, loyalty and perseverance, and this interpretation uses all of those for a tale that tugs at the heartstrings, but also features strong female roles, messages celebrating individuality and realistic emotion as the characters cope with struggle and loss. ( Three hour-long episodes)
Via PBS Passport streaming. Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie (TV-14)
STREAMING Age 10+ Comprehensive doc about iconic, controversial doll.
“Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie” is a documentary about the past, present and future of one of the world’s most iconic dolls. Much of the documentary is centered on Project Dawn, a Barbie revamp that attempted to address concerns over the potential negative effects of the traditionally white, blue-eyed, blond-haired, thin Barbie on girls’ self-image and self-esteem. The film also looks at the decades’-long history of the Barbie doll, from the highs — a progressive-for-her-time toy manufacturer who created Barbie in the face of strong resistance from male counterparts, the “Miss Astronaut” Barbie from 1965 — to the lows: the Teen Talk Barbie who said things like “Math is hard!” and “Let’s go shopping!” and a diet-obsessed Barbie whose scale always read “110” and had a sticker that said “Don’t eat.” There’s mention of a historical debate about whether Barbie should have breasts, and one use of “s---.” Offering a comprehensive look at the iconic toy, the movie should inspire discussion about how toys can be both a reflection of — and a driving force behind — social norms and beliefs. It’s also likely to inspire conversation about body image and diversity. (93 minutes) Via Hulu streaming. Common Sense Media helps families make smart media choices. Go to commonsensemedia.org for age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites and books.