Megamind

'Megamind'
Directors: Tom McGrath
Rated: PG for action and some language
Starring: Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Brad Pitt
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Watch the first five minutes of 'Megamind'
Common Sense Media rating: 5+

Moviefone Mama Says: In any other year, this movie would have been in the top tier of family films, but this year, after 'Toy Story 3,' 'How to Train Your Dragon' and 'Despicable Me,' it doesn't quite stack up as high. It is definitely entertaining enough for a whole-family trip to the theater, however, especially if your brood includes young superhero fans who can't get enough of caped heroes and villains. The voice cast is excellent (Pitt's not around much, but that's fine, since he's not exactly a comedian like the rest of the cast), especially Ferrell, Fey and Hill -- who's hilarious as a schlubby cameraman who's turned into a superhero slacker. Even as an animated, beefed up superhero, Hill apparently can escape typecasting. Ferrell and Fey lead the way, and the SNL alums are clearly gifted with their comedy timing. Don't expect it to rock your world, but it's fun and funny enough to please parents and kids yearning for a family movie outing.

Did You Know?: Hardcore superhero fans will recognize tributes and references to 'Superman,' 'Watchmen' (look out for the sad-face badge), and The Flash, Captain Marvel, 'X-Men,' Captain America and more. See how many you can spot.

3-D Factor: There were a few cool 3-D scenes, but if you want to spare your family the surcharges, you're not missing that much by watching a regular 2-D screening.



Parent Concerns: This is a much milder PG movie than, say, 'Legend of the Guardians.' Aside from some PG-rated language ("butt," "dumb"), brief flirting, a couple of chaste kisses and some to-be-expected cartoonish violence (explosions and property destruction that doesn't kill anyone except Metro Man), there's nothing overtly objectionable in the movie.

Here are three talking points to extend your moviegoing experience.

Megamind1. Bad to the Bone: In the opening sequence, Megamind says he realized he had to become a supervillain, because the only thing he was any good at as a kid was being bad. Ultimately, Metro Man helps Megamind realize that it's the choices you make that determine whether you're good or not. What other pop-culture "heroes" have had to make a conscious decision to use their powers or resources for the greater good? Some examples are Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne and even Harry Potter.

2. Good vs. Evil: While most kids will be too young to understand Megamind's existential crisis, the theme of good and evil is an easy one to explain using other movies as a guide. Get kids to name all the villains and heroes they can and discuss what made the heroes good and the villains evil. Ask your kids if there are some villains that aren't 100-percent evil or who even redeem themselves, like Megamind does. If they can't come up with any, and your children are old enough, it might be time to see the original 'Star Wars' series.

3. Comics 101: This entire movie is reference after reference to various superheroes. To catch all the allusions, you need to be as encyclopedic with your superhero knowledge as Comic Book Guy from 'The Simpsons.' Kids who show an extraordinary interest in the subject should be encouraged to read comics and graphic novels. In case you're skeptical, comic books/graphic novels do count as reading; I checked with my son's school librarian, and she suggested starting with 'Owly,' 'Bone,' 'Amelia Rules' and 'Alison Dare' and then moving on to 'Justice League Unlimited,' 'Teen Titans' and the Marvel Adventures series.


Three to See: Fantastic Villains
1. '101 Dalmatians': I've mentioned it before, but really, Cruella De Vil is just such a faaaabulous villain. With her skunk-like mane and her willingness to skin defenseless (and adorable) puppies, she's a class-A villainess.
2. 'Superman': Lex Luthor is the greatest of the bald baddies, and the 1978 version, starring Gene Hackman (sorry, Kevin Spacey), is a classic. Plus, kids will recognize afterward where the origin story of Megamind and Metro Man comes from.
3. 'X-Men': Teens will get a kick out of Magneto, who's another one of those genius supervillains. He's brilliant, witty and has a fascinating backstory (the harrowing opening scene will go a long way in explaining why he's a damaged soul).