"Dream a Better Dream"
What You Need To Know:
Despite some murky 3-D effects and unconvincing acting, this allegorical fantasy builds to an exciting climax and encourages children to pursue their best dreams. When someone smashes your dreams, or when your dreams don’t work out, build a better dream, the movie urges viewers. It also tells viewers to let go of bad dreams and pursue only good ones. Finally, the movie contains a strong message of forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation, a positive Christian message that we all need.
(BBB, CC, Ro, V) Very strong moral worldview, with strong Christian message of forgiveness and repentance, set in an allegorical fantasy land where dreams can come true, even bad dreams, but that encourages children to make only their good dreams come true, with slight nod to Romantic views of education and child-centered theories of education when grade school teacher says teachers become great when they realize that they can learn just as much from their young students as their students learn from them; no foul language; family action violence and some moments that might scare some young children under age six or seven, such as things get smashed, fighting, falling, scary characters, and electrical villain shocks people; no sex (Shark Boy and Lava Girl kiss one time, though); no nudity; no alcohol or smoking; and, nothing else objectionable.
THE ADVENTURES OF SHARK BOY AND LAVA GIRL is another wonderfully inventive, funny children’s movie from the creative mind of Robert Rodriguez, the creator of SPY KIDS. The allegorical fantasy builds to an exciting climax and encourages children to pursue their best dreams.
In his class, 10-year-old Max tells a story about his imaginary dream friends, Shark Boy and Lava Girl. In the story, Shark Boy got separated from his father and has grown shark fins after being cared for by a school of sharks. Lava Girl is another child alone, a volcanic beauty who emits flames and molten rocks. Both Shark Boy and Lava Girl live on Planet Drool, a realm of fantastic wonders where the Train of Thought can whisk you off to the mouth-watering Land of Milk and Cookies.
Max insists to his classmates that Shark Boy, Lava Girl and Planet Drool are real. Most of Max’s classmates don’t believe him, especially the class bully, Linus. Neither does his teacher, Mr. Electricidad.
Back home, Max’s parents are fighting. Later that night, in the wee small hours of the morning, Shark Boy and Lava Girl appear to Max. When Max tries to tell his parents, they disappear, and his parents also don’t believe him.
The next morning, as Max dreads going back to school and being ridiculed, he and his father ponder the little robot that Max once tried to build. The robot is unfinished because Max gave up building it when he discovered how hard it was going to be.
At school, Linus once again makes fun of Max. He even steals Max’s dream journal, where he draws and writes down all the adventures he dreams about Shark Boy, Lava Girl and Planet Drool. Suddenly, Shark Boy and Lava Girl actually appear at the school. They urge Max to return with them to Planet Drool, where the planet is in danger of being destroyed. They blast off in a spaceship created by Max in his dreams. Max has to think up a way to operate the spaceship, and, soon, he and his two friends arrive at Planet Drool.
There, Max discovers that the shocking Mr. Electric, who provides power to the lights on Planet Drool, is trying to do away with all dreams forever. Mr. Electric has almost shut down all of the lights keeping the planet alive. Soon, the land of Max’s dreams will be in complete and utter darkness.
Speedily conjuring up an incredible array of gadgets, gizmos, contraptions, and ideas, Max learns the power of turning his dreams into reality. There is another mysterious villain on the planet, however, who is trying to stop Max, Shark Boy and Lava Girl from defeating Mr. Electric. Can Max, using the power of his own dreams, expose and defeat the villain in time?
The 3-D effects on Planet Drool are a little bit too dark, visually speaking, mostly because Mr. Electric has shut off most of the lights on the planet. Thus, viewers don’t always get a clear, colorful glimpse of all the fantastic landscapes and objects that this movie has in store for them. Even so, the movie builds to a clever, exciting climax that should enthrall children of all ages.
Yet, what really stands out most of all is the elaborate, fanciful allegory that director Robert Rodriguez creates, using stories originally imagined by his own seven-year-old son, Racer Max. For instance, in the movie, the hero, Max, has trouble turning his dreams into reality. Shark Boy and Lava Girl constantly encourage Max to work hard at building his dreams so they won’t die. Eventually, they remind Max that, when someone smashes your dreams, or when your dreams don’t work out, the best thing to do is “Build a better dream, then work to make it real.” This is a great lesson for anyone who becomes discouraged and depressed about failure and other bad things in life.
THE ADVENTURES OF SHARK BOY AND LAVA GIRL doesn’t just encourage viewers to dream big, it also encourages them to dream well. Thus, the movie tells viewers to let go of their bad dreams and pursue only good dreams. In this way, the movie offers much better, more positive messages than those in our culture who say, “Follow your heart,” “Follow your bliss” or “Do your own thing.”
For example, in the BACK TO THE FUTURE movie trilogy, starring Michael J. Fox, Fox’s character concludes, “You can do anything that you set your mind to do.” Even if this were true, the BACK TO THE FUTURE movies don’t tell viewers whether the things you set your mind to do are actually worthy, moral, honest, and true. THE ADVENTURES OF SHARK BOY AND LAVA GIRL, however, shows people that creating and pursuing good dreams is better than creating and pursuing bad ones. Once again, its message of “Build a better dream” imparts valuable, worthy lessons for discerning parents and their children, the most likely audience for this kind of movie.
Other allegorical messages in the movie include, “Dreams don’t come true on their own. You have to make them come true. It’s hard, but not impossible.” Also, make your mind stay focused when you’re on the Train of Thought, or the Train will go off the tracks.
THE ADVENTURES OF SHARK BOY AND LAVA GIRL also has a strong message of forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation at one point. This positive Christian message also appears in the three SPY KIDS movies created by Rodriguez. It’s part of what sets his family movies apart from many others.
A final note – some scary characters and situations may scare younger children, so a slight caution for ages 2-7, especially the younger ages, is recommended.