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Parents' Guide to


By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 6+

Heartfelt, romantic fable about immigrant experience.

Movie PG 2023 103 minutes
Elemental Movie Poster: Ember and Wade look at each other, against a black background

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 25 parent reviews

age 6+

Wish Disney would ditch the language, but otherwise cute film

The film was very cute. It is full of mushy romance, which I feel is evident in the previews, but I went with a group of 9 year old girls who all said it was “cringy”… so it may be a bit heavy on the romance. 3D was really fun, the water frequently looks like it’s coming at you. My only complaint is the language slip ins like “lazy ash”. It’s so unnecessary in a kids film Disney :-( and kids definitely pick up on it! My daughter heard her friends gasp and said “what does that mean, what does that mean” to which they responded “it’s a bad word”. My question is, why? It doesn’t add to the film.
14 people found this helpful.
age 5+

Great messaging, a few questionable phrases

Loved- messages of the challenges related to immigration, fitting into a new place, speaking a different language in a new land, looking different and having different culture than those around you, and showing the guilt and shame that first generation Americans can feel. Loved the messages around interracial /ethnic couples, and how some families accept and encourage their kids to be who they are while others expect them to fit in the mold and follow in their foot steps. Loved the raw and vulnerable emotions of the “Ripple” Family (the water characters). My husband said he loved the soundtrack and found it very peaceful and relaxing. He said he “felt good” the whole film. Myself, husband and mother in law all cried at the end because of the beautiful messaging. My daughter is 5 (close to 6) years old and really enjoyed it. She laughed at some points, she was easily able to follow the story line. She’s pretty sensitive about spooky things and she wasn’t scared at all during the movie. She enjoyed the characters, especially the “fire girl” Ember. What I didn’t like were a few of the words or phrases that I find every kid’s movie has, that adds ZERO value to the movie and seems completely unnecessary to do. It’s incredibly hard to find a good movie without these type of lines in movies made for kids and it is so disheartening. Examples: Ember says “Ooohh Flame” Ember told customers to stop sitting on their ASH. Wade (water guy) told Ember (fire girl) she was “hott” and “smokin” Ember said there was “fluffin leak” in the pipes At the end, Ember’s Dad tells her that now they have more time for “hanky panky” and her mom elbows her dad and looks embarrassed. It just seems there was innuendos for curse words and sexual content.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
9 people found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (25 ):
Kids say (24 ):

Director Peter Sohn's beautifully animated allegory is a simple but sweet story that brings the immigrant journey and the first-generation experience to vibrant life. While the film's plot isn't quite as robust as those of Disney Pixar's most famous adventures, Elemental does touchingly delve into the challenges and triumphs of being the child of refugees and growing up immersed in a culturally homogenous community. It shows both the comfort and strength of being around your own people and the fact that wider society can be prejudiced. Ember's dilemma -- whether to sacrifice her own feelings in order to honor her parents or to follow her own desires but risk hurting those who raised her -- is authentic, if oversimplified. The nuances are right: Ember wants to be a "good daughter," to fulfill her duty, to take up the mantle from her stressed and tired father. But as she explores Element City, gets to know Wade, and discovers her more artistic side (she's a talented glass blower), she must figure out whether her future contains more possibilities than she imagined.

Lewis and Athie are both well cast, embodying two opposing examples of young adulthood -- one focused on pleasing their parents by pursuing a specific goal and the other willing to flit from job to job until they find "their thing." The parents' voices -- including Wade's widowed mom, voiced by the inimitable Catherine O'Hara -- are also expressive and humorous. And the movie's dating aspects are tender, if a little obvious. Wade and Ember's opposites-attract chemistry is funny until it's clear that Ember really is concerned that her family will disown her if she dates a "water guy." Wade's family, by contrast, is immediately Team Ember, heartily welcoming her (albeit a bit awkwardly, thanks to the clueless old uncle who makes a mildly racist comment). The main characters' slow-burn (pun intended) relationship aside, Elemental has astonishingly gorgeous and detailed animation. The various element folks are vividly colorful, with visceral textures and fantastic (and fantastical) landscapes and movements. The glass-making scenes are especially memorable, and the water-based disasters devastating. While the littlest viewers may not pick up on all of the story's nuances, they'll still understand the importance of inclusion, family, and love.

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