Movie Review: 'Doolittle'

Eccentric doctor talks to animals and travels to a faraway island in search of a mysterious plant-based cure for Queen Victoria.


Published:

Lord Badgley (Jim Broadbent,) Dr. Blair Mudfly (Michael Sheen,) Tommy ((Harry Collett) and Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) watch as Dr. Dolittle talks to Jip the dog (Tom Holland) about the antidote to save dying Queen Victoria.

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

“Doolittle” is based on Hugh Lofting's Newbery Prize-winning 1922 novel “The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle.“ It’s also a reboot of movie adaptations from 1967 and 1998, with some of the same animal characters, yet it’s a completely different story. The current movie is about eccentric doctor who talks to animals and travels to a faraway island in search of a mysterious plant-based cure for Queen Victoria. This is an entertaining and suspenseful story that unfolds with fun, humor and adventure, although some aspects of the film may frighten sensitive children. 

The Story

The film begins the backstory of Dr. John Doolittle (Robert Downey, Jr.) as told by Polly the parrot (voiced by Emma Thompson.) Dr. Doolittle is a distinguished medical doctor and veterinarian in Victorian England with the unique ability to communicate with animals. Incredibly, Dr Doolittle can talk with any animal that he encounters – be it a duck, dog, baboon, giraffe, polar bear, parrot or octopus. He travels the world with his beloved wife Lily (Kasia Smutniak,) finding abandoned or injured animals and bringing them to their sanctuary. The Doolittles are different from the rest of society in that they refuse to use animals as “possessions, food or sport.” When Lily passes away unexpectedly, her husband becomes so distraught that he stops practicing medicine. Dr. Doolittle lives in a lavish mansion that was gifted him by the Queen Victoria. However, now that his wife has passed away, Doolittle turns his home into an indoor zoo, and it’s pure pandemonium with animals running through the house. 

Meanwhile, a young boy named Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) is hunting with his uncle and cousin. Tommy doesn’t have the heart to hunt or kill animals. Somehow, his gun misfires and he accidentally shoots a squirrel named Kevin (voiced by Craig Robinson.) Tommy’s uncle gives him a knife and encourages him to put the squirrel out of it’s misery. But Tommy just can’t do it. Instead, he takes the injured squirrel to Dr. Dolittle’s sanctuary. Along the way, Tommy meets a young girl named Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) who is sent by Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) to talk to Dr. Doolittle about an urgent matter. 

When Tommy and Lady Rose arrive at Dolittle's Manor, the doctor is playing chess with talking mice, Chee-Chee the gorilla (Rami Malek,) Dab-Dab the duck (Octavia Spencer), and Jip the dog (Tom Holland.)  The doorbells rings, and the doctor tells Chee-Chee the gorilla to answer the door. The visitors are Tommy and Lady Rose, and they’ve brought along Kevin the injured squirrel, hoping that Dr. Doolittle can help him. Also, Lady Rose tells Dr. Dolittle that Queen Victoria has summoned him to Buckingham Palace for urgent business. Dr. Dolittle helps Kevin the squirrel recover but refuses to leave his home. Eventually, Dolittle changes his mind, cleans himself up and heads out to visit the queen, along with his animal entourage. 

Upon arrival at Buckingham Palace, Dr. Doolittle encounters his old rival from medical school, Dr. Blair Mudfly (Michael Sheen) who is there to care for the queen. Dolittle and his animals enter the queen’s quarters, and find her sick in bed, groggy and barely hanging on to life. In a bizarre change of events, Dr Doolittle puts his head underwater in the queen’s aquarium, so that he can to talk to her pet octopus. The octopus tells Dr Doolittle that the queen was poisoned with a deadly nightshade serum. The only cure is the Eden Fruit, which is available on a faraway island. Now Dolittle makes it his mission to find the Eden Fruit, and bring it back to Buckingham Palace in order to save the queen. However, Doolittle must act quickly, and return before to Britain before the solar eclipse occurs, at which point the queen will perish.

What Parents Should Know

“Doolittle” is an entertaining family film that’s suitable for children in elementary school as well as middle schoolers and teenagers. Parents and grandparents will see things in the story that youngsters may overlook—such as the grief we may experience when a loved one passes away. There is some sadness in the movie (when Lily Doolittle dies at sea) but there’s a greater message of overcoming loss and abandonment by working together. 

Some aspects of this movie may frighten children. There is danger, peril and violence, with characters using guns, knives, cannons, and explosives. It’s unsettling when Dr. Doolittle is captured and thrown into a dark prison cell. A tiger is released into Dolittle's cell, who intends to kill and eat him. The situation becomes less threatening, however, as the tiger talks in his sleep about cuddling with his mommy. 

There is a scary villain with dark gunpowder smears on his face. Some animals fight each other and appear to be wounded. Queen Victoria is betrayed and poisoned, a concept which may give some children nightmares. Sensitive children might also be frightened by a fire-spewing dragon with glowing red eyes. It turns out the dragon has a stomach infection and Dr. Doolittle performs an emergency extraction. He pulls things out of the dragon’s rear end (I won’t tell you what it is, but it turns out being funny and cartoonish—perhaps a reminder to kids not to take the story too seriously.) 

Final Take

What I liked best about "Doolittle" was the doctor's quirky and vunerable connection to the animals. It was crazy funny and brought a smile to my face. I also liked the subplot of young Tommy, who eventually learns to empathize and talk to animals, and finds his place in this world, just like the good doctor does. Lady Rose brings grace and sophistication to the story, and adds some "girl power" an otherwise mostly male cast. If you're an animal lover like I am, you'll probably like this movie. 

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Movie Reviews for Parents

When Hollywood puts out movies, you never know what you are going to get. Nicky VanValkenburgh gives insight on underlying messages and motives on new movies, plus the scary, silly and sarcastic for know-before-you-go guidance to help parents decide if a movie is right for their family.


About Nicky VanValkenburgh

Nicky VanValkenburgh is a wife and mother with two teenage sons. She has been reviewing movies for more than 25 years. By reading this blog, you will discover the plot or storyline of current movies, as well as insights on sex and nudity, violence, and foul language.

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July 2020

Have a fun night with the family at the ballpark.

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Sims Park
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Experience age-level appropriate Sunday school classes at 9:30 and 11 a.m. that connect families with larger church programs and ministries while creating a welcoming environment for all families.

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Teach or play with your child in the heated pool.

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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

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Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
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Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

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Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
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500 S. Tryon St.
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712 Circle Trace Road
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Drop off your little ones to explore, play and learn during Music Mondays, Theater Thursdays and Food Fridays. A small snack is provided. Register online.

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New Hope Baptist Church
2024 Redbud Drive
Gastonia, NC
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Toddlers can enjoy a special jump session every weekday morning. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

Cost: $11 for one hour

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DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
, NC
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George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

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The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
, NC
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Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
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Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
, NC
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More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

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Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

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Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
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Cost: $11 for one hour

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DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
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Cost: Free

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
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Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
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Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

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Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
, NC
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Cost: $5 per swimmer, max $15 per family

Where:
Goldfish Swim School
13403 S. Ridge Drive
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Families of children with special needs can enjoy a special jump session the first Tuesday of each month. Defy Gravity grip socks, $3, are required.

Cost: $7 per hour for each jumper with special needs and immediate family members

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Defy Gravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
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Charlotte Motor Speedway
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This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
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View map »


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More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

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Toddlers can enjoy a special jump session every weekday morning. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

Cost: $11 for one hour

Where:
DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
, NC
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Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
, NC
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Explore the Mint Museum's exhibitions without charge.

Cost: Free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road
Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC
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Telephone: 704-337-2000
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This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


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More information

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

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Show Less...

Drop off your little ones to explore, play and learn during Music Mondays, Theater Thursdays and Food Fridays. A small snack is provided. Register online.

Cost: $21-$31

Where:
New Hope Baptist Church
2024 Redbud Drive
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Toddlers can enjoy a special jump session every weekday morning. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

Cost: $11 for one hour

Where:
DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Hear live music every Thursday, June 4 through August 13. Bring chairs, blankets, and money for food trucks, beer, wine and sodas. See website for lineup.

Cost: $5 per person (free for members); $5 per car for parking

Where:
Anne Springs Close Greenway
291 Dairy Barn Ln.
Fort Mill, SC
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River Jam brings live music outdoors, right in the middle of the world’s largest man-made whitewater river. Hear music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as during each of...

Cost: $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Drop off your little ones to explore, play and learn during Music Mondays, Theater Thursdays and Food Fridays. A small snack is provided. Register online.

Cost: $21-$31

Where:
New Hope Baptist Church
2024 Redbud Drive
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Toddlers can enjoy a special jump session every weekday morning. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

Cost: $11 for one hour

Where:
DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Caregivers and their littles learn new yoga poses with songs and games. Multiple class rates available.

Cost: $20

Where:
Tiny Blooms Yoga
15905 Brookway Drive
Suite 4106
Huntersville, NC
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Website »

More information

Teach or play with your child in the heated pool.

Cost: $5 per swimmer, max $15 per family

Where:
Goldfish Swim School
13403 S. Ridge Drive
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

rab dinner from a variety of local food trucks at this weekly rally. Visit the website for a list of participating trucks.

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Resident Culture Brewing Company
2101 Central Ave.
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Cost: Free

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Sycamore Brewing
2161 Hawkins St.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Stumptown Park
120 S. Trade St.
Matthews, NC
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Cost: Free

Where:
Oak Street Mill
19725 Oak St.
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Cost: $25

Where:
Romp n' Roll NW Charlotte
3611 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road
207
, NC
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Website »

More information

Live the story of Stephen and the Apostles. Experience the rousing power of ANNO DOMINI: the year of our Lord while enjoying a Greek dinner.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theater
3327 Highway 51
Fort Mill, SC  29715
View map »


Website »

More information

River Jam brings live music outdoors, right in the middle of the world’s largest man-made whitewater river. Hear music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as during each of...

Cost: $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See the original, Broadway-style dinner show, and experience the story of Stephen and the Apostles. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy 51
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
Telephone: 803-802-2300
Website »

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn about women in history who championed the cause of women's suffrage in this country and overseas in the late 19th and early 20th century in this performance by Jessica Michna with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 East Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

On Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5pm, the arcade bar opens to all ages with a parent or guardian present.

Cost: Cost for games

Where:
Abari Game Bar
1721 N. Davidson St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-430-4587
Website »

More information

Live the story of Stephen and the Apostles. Experience the rousing power of ANNO DOMINI: the year of our Lord while enjoying a Greek dinner.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theater
3327 Highway 51
Fort Mill, SC  29715
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The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library presents monthly story times at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. every second Saturday of the month.

Cost: Free

Where:
Northlake Mall Live 360° Games Court
6801 Northlake Mall Drive
, NC
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Sponsor: Northlake Mall
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River Jam brings live music outdoors, right in the middle of the world’s largest man-made whitewater river. Hear music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as during each of...

Cost: $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
, NC
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Sponsor: USNWC
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Bring chairs and blankets to watch movies in the park. Concessions will be available for purchase. The second Saturday of the month, May through September with a Halloween special on Oct. 17. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Stowe Park
24 S. Main St.
Belmont, NC
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This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
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Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
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See the original, Broadway-style dinner show, and experience the story of Stephen and the Apostles. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy 51
Fort Mill, SC
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Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
Telephone: 803-802-2300
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This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
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Annual Guides

G.P.S. [Go.Play.See]

Your guide to raising kids in the Queen City, plus our 2019 Readers' Favorites for places to play, explore and learn with the kids.

Education Guide

A comprehensive guide to independent, private, charter and public schools in Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Union and York counties.
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