Everyone loves an underdog victory story, which is exactly what we get in Netflix’s new family-friendly flick, The Main Event. My four kids can’t stop watching it and surprisingly, I don’t mind it either. The Main Event uplifts us with a humorous and heart-warming plot, perfect for our ongoing social isolation session.
Eleven-year-old Leo, played by Seth Carr, is trying to navigate life as a tween, including dealing with bullies, crushing on a girl, and struggling with his relationship with his father. Everything changes when Leo discovers a hilariously stinky, antique mask. (You might recognize Carr as young Killmonger from Black Panther. He was also Gabrielle Union’s son in the suspense thriller Breaking In.) When he puts it on, not only does his voice drop a few octaves, ensuring your kids will giggle, but it gives him super strength and flexibility. What will he do with his newfound powers?
Leo’s mother left the family, and Leo is being raised by his father and his maternal grandmother, played by Tichina Arnold. When Leo overhears that his dad is in some serious debt, Leo puts two and two together. He could don his magical mask, enter a local fighting competition, win the grand prize, and pay off the debt for his father. But can he win, and how does he do so without revealing his secret power and true identity?
We meet several characters, including Leo’s trendy and smart grandma who is referred to as “TMZ” by Leo’s father because she’s always on social media posting pics and videos of herself. Leo’s fellow fighting competitors are quirky, but never terrifying, perfect for younger viewers. At home, Leo is himself, doing homework, eating with his family, and hanging out with his friends. But in the ring, Leo is Kid Chaos.
Like all great youth movies, kids can relate in a myriad of ways. Leo’s family is multiracial and non-traditional. His father is white, Leo is presumably bi-racial, his mom is black, and his grandma is also black. Leo is an only child. His close-knit group of friends, is racially diverse as well, including the girl he likes.
Leo befriends an older black fighter named Smooth Operator who is trying to achieve his dream of becoming the champion. He serves as a mentor for Leo rather than another foe. Their friendship, which spans generations, also resonates with viewers who realize the importance of racial role models. There’s a sweet surprise at the end between the pair, too.
Leo also navigates what it means to crush on a girl and maintain friendships. At one point, his fame gets to his head and he prioritizes a publicity event over participating in a talent show with his friends as promised. This leads to a scene that stresses the importance of apologizing and forgiveness.
Just like at school, where Leo deals with three bullies who relentlessly tease him, Leo also faces a deceitful duo who are determined to become the tournament cage-match champions. My kids loved that Leo learns how to use his problem-solving skills, rather than his strength, to defeat the cheating pair. Despite Leo following his grandma’s advice and thinking with his head and heart, there’s still plenty of action scenes to entertain kids.
Parents don’t need to be concerned about the fight scenes. There are several, and they are overwhelmingly comedic, not violent. There are far more slow-motion slides and flips than punches and kicks. At one point, a character “fights” Leo by letting out a thunderous, stinky fart. Silly? You bet. As we all know, the more toilet humor, the better to keep our kids entertained.
We appreciate the timing of the movie. My family was getting tired of the same-o, same-o. Don’t get me wrong, Frozen 2 is fantastic, but I’ve got to make like Elsa and let it go before I lose my mind. Honestly, how many times can we watch Trolls World Tour? We needed something fresh and funny to take our mind off all the COVID19 madness.
Parents, make the popcorn and pull out the sleeping bags, because The Main Event is going to become your family’s new fave. Because right now, we all need something—or someone—to cheer for. Just don’t be surprised when your kids want to watch it on repeat.
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