With its star-studded cast, playful cameos, and charming leading man, there's a lot to love about Shazam! The goofy superhero film is uplifting, and it can teach kids a thing or two about empathy and growing pains. Still, it is PG-13 and definitely geared more toward tweens. While Shazam! is more family friendly than say Deadpool, it's given that rating for a couple of reasons, namely for its depiction of violence and for its heavier themes.
Here's what you should know before you take your child to watch the film. Warning: minor spoilers ahead!
- You'll see lots of violence and a few deaths.
Between the people who crumble into ashes and the demonic Seven Deadly Sins, Shazam! can be intense. You'll witness epic fight sequences with slams, shots, and throws. In addition to exaggerated violence, there are instances of bullying and abusive family members.
- The light humor undercuts the dark themes.
Shazam! is upbeat for the most part, but it definitely includes heavy themes. Billy is a troubled kid with issues that result in violence and rule-breaking. While his foster parents are caring, other adults can be scary and manipulative.
- Prepare to hear cussing throughout.
There's a light amount of swearing for comic relief, but nothing in excess. You'll hear off-color gems such as "ass," "sh*t," "hell," "butt," "moron," and "nuts." As for obscene gestures, middle fingers go off every now and then.
- There are a few suggestive moments.
The goofy comedy in the film comes from the kid characters' encounters with adult things, such as buying beer and going to a strip club. Plus, a few jokes contain innuendo about body parts. We don't see anything too graphic, but a few scenes may prompt conversations about these topics.
- The cast is diverse, and actors of color have meaningful roles.
Billy's foster family consists of members from different races. Jovan Armand, who plays Billy's foster brother Pedro, has spoken on the film's diversity. "Kids from different backgrounds can see our foster family and imagine themselves on the big screen," he told NBC News.
- Shazam! has sweet messages about family.
At the film's heart is a foster family, from the protagonist's quirky siblings to his supportive parents. Billy's growth comes from appreciating his group home, which is a safe and loving place. That said, Billy's relationship with his biological mother can be sad or frightening.
- It's also about standing up to do the right thing.
When Billy discovers his powers, he's not above taking advantage of it for his own gain. Toward the end of the movie, he learns that he's responsible for more than himself and stands up for what's right.