Christian Movie Interviews, News and Reviews

5 Things Parents Should Know about Shazam!

  • Michael Foust
5 Things Parents Should Know about <em>Shazam!</em>

Billy Batson is an insecure, 14-year-old teen living in a foster care system he hates. He has no plans of staying – as he’s proven countless times by running away.

“I can take care of myself,” he tells a social worker.

But that can’t happen until he’s 18.

So he’s sent to live with another foster family – his seventh – where he’ll continue his quest for an identity and a future.

Then lightning strikes in his life, both literally and figuratively, when he’s transported to another dimension and encounters an aging wizard named Shazam, who is looking for a replacement. Shazam is searching for someone who is “strong in spirit” and “pure in heart.” Billy says he doesn’t possess those qualities, but it doesn’t matter. Shazam is desperate, and Billy is the chosen one.

Billy becomes Shazam – a superhero who can fly through the sky, run faster than a speeding bullet, and leap tall buildings. If only he could figure out how to do those things.

The DC Comics film Shazam! (PG-13) opens this weekend, starring Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Jack Dylan Grazer as his friend, Freddy, and Zachary Levi as Billy’s superhero alter ego.

Here are five things parents should know:

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Photo courtesy: DC

1. It’s Original and Funny

1. It’s Original and Funny

Shazam! is different from any modern-day superhero film. It has more comical I-can’t-believe-I’m-a-superheromoments than Spider-Man: Homecoming. It has more humor than Thor: Ragnarok. It’s a million times more appropriate than Deadpool, and, for the most part, the funny moments stay family-friendly. 

It’s hilarious to watch Shazam learn to fly (he falls flat on his face), fight (he gets hit multiple times before he learns the ropes) and leap tall buildings (he makes it halfway up before crashing into a window). All along, his friend, Freddy, is doing what any teenager would do: recording Shazam’s antics for YouTube videos. (Yes, they go viral.) 

Eventually, Shazam’s immaturity catches up with him, as happens when he accidentally forces a bus to crash while demonstrating his lightning powers. He had become – Freddy tells him – a “showoff and bully.” Don’t worry: Shazam matures before the credits roll.

Photo courtesy: DC

2. It’s All About Family and Foster Care

2. It’s All About Family and Foster Care

Yes, Shazam! is a superhero flick, but it’s also a film about foster care, family and one teenage boy’s search for identity. 

“I’ve got a mom... She’s still out there. I know it,” Billy says early in the film, referencing his biological lineage. He got separated from her at a young age when he got lost in a crowd. Ever since, he’s been living in the foster care system, rejecting every family that takes him in. He’s now on his seventh set of foster parents: Victor and Rosa Vasquez, who have a quaint house and five other foster kids. He likes them, but not too much. “Families are for people who can’t take care of themselves,” he tells his foster sister. But by the end of the film, he has a change of heart.

Photo courtesy: DC

3. It Just May Make You Cry

3. It Just May Make You Cry

The film’s heavy themes will lead some parents wanting more details. If that’s you, then keep reading. (Otherwise, flee!)  

It’s heartbreaking to watch Billy search for a mom he doesn’t know – a mom that social workers believe didn’t want to find him. He goes from city to city, house to house, looking for anyone with her last name. He finds her toward the end of the film, but it doesn’t bring the joy he expected. (She says she was 17 and too young to raise him, and she felt the police could better take care of him.) Still, it brings closure to this chapter in his life, and he moves on. He realizes he already has a family. He already has the love he craved. He even calls Victor and Rosa his “real” family. Perhaps you’ll shed a tear of sadness ... and then a tear of joy.

Photo courtesy: DC

4. It May Be Too Much for Kids

4. It May Be Too Much for Kids

Shazam! is rated PG-13, but I’m guessing DC is targeting older children and tweens, too. If that’s the case, DC didn’t hit the bullseye. 

The movie includes several violent and disturbing moments that could give children nightmares, led by the demonic-looking spirit creatures that provide Sivana his powers. These ugly creatures are the demons of the seven deadly sins (greed, pride, lust, gluttony, envy, wrath and sloth), and they look every bit like something from the pits of hell. They’re also violent. We see one of them bite off a person’s head. Second later, one of them eats a person whole. During one of the scenes, I heard a young girl in the theater cry.

The film’s fisticuff violence is typical for a superhero movie.

The film twice shows Shazam outside a strip club – “The Booty Club” – although we don’t see inside. The movie also has a moderate amount of language (more than 25 words, including a few instances of s--t, by my count). 

Photo courtesy: DC

5. It Has Mid-Credit and Post-Credit Scenes

5. It Has Mid-Credit and Post-Credit Scenes

The mid-credit scene is essential to the plot (it includes Sivana), while the post-credit one is just for laughs (it involves Shazam and Freddy).

Not surprisingly, the movie sets up a sequel, as Shazam shares his powers with his siblings, making them superheroes too. This means the next film will have a team of superheroes in the vein of Marvel’s Avengers or DC’s Justice League. Just a lot less serious.  

Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars. 

Family-friendly rating:2.5 out of 5 stars.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action, language, and suggestive material.  

Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.

Photo courtesy: DC





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