54 Best Releases Rated PG

The Spool Staff

1- Title (Year) for Movies or 2- Title Season X for TV shows

Kids deserve better than yet another dull, going-through-the-motions misfire. The animation world was recently startled by Warner Bros.' announcement that they planned to shelve their recently completed feature Coyote vs Acme for a quick tax write-off, rather than spend money to release it. Not to be outdone, Disney Studios offers up Wish, an animated feature that is the kind of artistic misfire that deserves to be hidden away and never spoken about again. This is a creation so alternately bewildering and banal that it's implausible that at no point during the entire creative process did anyone point out the seemingly obvious fact that virtually none of it works on even the most basic levels. Continue Reading →


The Trolls movies continue to indulge in their best and worst impulses in a third installment. The poster for this past summer's R-rated comedy No Hard Feelings had a reasonably clever tagline to explain the strained dynamic between the film's two leads. Against an image of Jennifer Lawrence squeezing Andrew Barth Feldman's cheeks, a single word is placed on top of each person's face: "Pretty" and "Awkward." Nothing revolutionary in design, but it gets the job done. Best of all, that tagline also makes for an apt descriptor for Trolls Band Together. Continue Reading →

Miraculous - le film

When I was around thirteen, two classmates, Christina and Taylor (their real names, it’s not like they’re going to read this), played a prank on me that resulted in my eating dog food. In retrospect, it could have been worse: nobody else saw it happen, and for whatever reason they kept it to themselves. But when I think about my teenage years (and I try not to much at this point in my life, other than at a superficial pop culture level), my mind often goes to that moment. Continue Reading →

Inspector Sun y la maldición de la viuda negra

I love detective stories. Tales of how, as Sara Gran would say, "truth lives in the ether." Explorations of people and places and how they shape each other. The journey down the streets towards a hidden truth. Dennis Lehane's Darkness, Take My Hand, is my favorite book. Rian Johnson's Brick and Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone are movies I think the world of, never mind all-timers like Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep and Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye. And, of course, the immortal Who Framed Roger Rabbit? from Robert Zemeckis. Any time there's a new detective film, whether it be an affably bleak comedy or an action-driven character study, it's a treat. Continue Reading →



Local filmmakers, horror & desire are all given the spotlight at the Chicago International Film Festival's shorts program. This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the work being covered here wouldn't exist. Continue Reading →

Silver Dollar Road


Based on Lizzie Presser’s 2019 ProPublica/New Yorker article, Raoul Peck’s Silver Dollar Road starts by barreling headfirst. Its first 15 minutes are a crash course of talking heads, introducing family members with broad, expository precision. The film shows them but doesn’t fully introduce them. Rather, it relies on graphics to fashion a sense of context. What the subjects say to the camera may provide an identity for the story at hand, but Peck’s approach renders such words largely textual. The narrative may be propulsive. The film, however, tends to feel stagnant. Continue Reading →

The Exorcist: Believer

If you like loud noise jump scares, you’re going to love The Exorcist: Believer.  Continue Reading →

Fantastic Animation Festival


In addition to new releases, Fantastic Fest also presented a selection of largely forgotten oddities from the past. This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the work being covered here wouldn't exist. Continue Reading →


If Sorcerer’s sole highlight was Roy Scheider's descent into hallucinatory madness amidst an almost lunar rock field, it would still be a special movie. Scheider is Jackie Scanlon, an American getaway driver turned washed-up exile in the isolated Columbian village of Porvenir. He’s the last survivor of a desperate mission to transport increasingly unstable dynamite to a burning oil well. The blaze is so bad that only controlled explosions to burn off its fuel stand a chance of extinguishing it. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, including Jackie’s kibashed truck giving out a long walk from the well. Haunted by—or just plain hallucinating—the laughter of his dead co-driver, he stumbles forward. Surrounded by the surreal with nothing but a rickety crate between him and the hair-trigger death, it’s all he can do besides die. Continue Reading →

The Brink's Job

NOW STREAMING: Powered by Continue Reading →

A Million Miles Away

A Million Miles Away is one of those movies that live in the meaty part of the decent curve. Far too sturdy and well-made to be called bad. Too rote and predictable to really call good. It tells the true story of José Hernández (Michael Pena), an unquestionably inspiring man who did an impossibly difficult thing under impossibly difficult circumstances. Continue Reading →


When SCTV, the funniest sketch comedy show of all time, moved to the CBC network in its third season, the producers were given an edict to include two minutes of identifiably Canadian content in each episode. Believing this to be a particularly stupid order—the show was written, produced and performed by a mostly Canadian cast and crew—two of the show’s writer-performers, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, decided to ridicule the request via a string of largely improvised sketches in which they would play characters that would overtly embody the most obvious Canadian stereotype. They would always be wearing toques, talking about back bacon and beer and interject “Eh?” into practically every sentence. Continue Reading →


My mother was not much of a movie fan. They just never interested her that much, but when it became obvious that I was obsessed with them by the time I reached preschool age, she did nothing to discourage me. Every once in a while she'd let me know that the feature on the The 3:30 Movie (my primary outlet for watching films in those pre-cable, pre-VCR days) was something that I had to watch. Oddly, her instincts often proved to be correct and I was exposed at a very early (perhaps inappropriately so age to such films as The Producers, Duel and the Joan Rivers-penned TV movie The Girl Most Likely To. . ., all of which would be long-standing favorites of mine. Continue Reading →

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Despite their hue, not all TMNT films deserved to be greenlit. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in 1984. Now almost 40 years later, what started as a comic book has inspired seven movies, five television series, and countless amounts of merchandise. This week the four ninja tortoises return in a new animated incarnation, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Considering I’ve been a fan of the Turtles since six years old, this seems like the perfect time to put an official rating on four decades of movies. Some are gnarly, some tubular, and there’s always a whole lot of cowabunga.   Continue Reading →

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

For characters who started in part as an affectionate homage to and goof on the character-defining Frank Miller-written Daredevil comics, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are remarkably flexible. This is true in-universe: being bendy is a package deal with being a master of ninjitsu. But I'm talking more about the sheer variety of Ninja Turtle projects.  Continue Reading →

The Deepest Breath

How long can you hold your breath? A minute? Maybe? Kids time these sorts of things when swimming, but it's not something most of us think about in our waking lives. But I know that when I swim and misjudge the time it takes to surface, panic sets in almost instinctively. The body wants to live. It takes a particular personality to ignore the body's demands in apparent life-or-death circumstances. Stephen Keenan and Alessia Zecchini are two such people. Zecchini's first words in The Deepest Breath, Laura McCann's documentary about Keenan and Zecchini's goal to become legendary deep sea free divers, are about how she's never associated diving with death. I'll grant a writer is more likely to associate everything with death. But I cannot understand plunging into the darkest depths of the earth while holding your breath for minutes at a time and passing out before you can return without thinking of your own demise. Some of us, I suppose, see a Way where the rest see a void.   Continue Reading →

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken

It’s not easy being a teenager. It’s especially not easy being a teenager like the titular protagonist of Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken. As that title would suggest, Ruby Gillman (Lana Condor) is a Kraken living in a seaside town with her family. Her parents and younger brother seem to have no trouble assimilating to the broader world, while Ruby struggles. All she wants is to blend in as a normal human-- albeit one with blue skin and no spine. However, to be an average teen, she’ll likely have to break some of her mom’s strict rules, namely, never going near the ocean.  Continue Reading →

Stan Lee

Thanks to decades of cameos in movies and promotional stunts intertwining him with the very word “Marvel,” audiences across the planet have a deep connection to comic book legend Stan Lee. Though he passed away in the final weeks of 2018, Lee’s legacy lives on. Marvel Studios even utilized existing audio of his voice in a special 2021 video. It helped them announce the return of its features to movie theaters. Artistic individuals like this tend to endure, no matter what happens to their physical bodies.  Continue Reading →


Over the years, Pixar has enlisted a variety of creatures to populate their wholesome stories of love and acceptance. There have been toys, monsters, cars, disembodied souls, and even the occasional human. In their new film Elemental, the characters are personifications of the four elements. It’s a choice that may leave you asking, “Have they run out of ideas at this point?”  Continue Reading →

It's so, so wonderful that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse loves comics. Not just their characters (though it does) or the superhero genre (though it does)—the medium of comics itself. Comics are an infinitely flexible form. They can engage in dialogue with popular works in other mediums! They can use space to shape their readers' perception of time! They can use form and illustration style to capture the difference between perception and reality! Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is, amongst other things, a celebration of comics and their possibilities. It is glorious. Continue Reading →

The Little Mermaid

The spate of recent live-action Disney remakes has run the gamut in quality from pleasantly diverting (Cinderella, Pete’s Dragon) to unwatchable abominations (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast.) Even the most well-received entries of the bunch struggle to find reasons they should exist in the first place. Rob Marshall’s The Little Mermaid is no different, but for one crucial factor that sets it apart from the rest: Halle Bailey as Ariel. Bailey is so captivating and winsome in the titular role that this remake almost feels worth it just to launch her into movie stardom. Unfortunately, sub-par CGI effects and clunky changes to Howard Ashman’s classic songs often make it feel like Bailey is left to carry the movie on the strength of her remarkable talent alone. With a shaggy runtime of two hours and fifteen minutes—a full hour longer than the original cartoon—it’s a heavy load for one performer to bear. Continue Reading →