Parents' Guide to

The Boy and the Heron

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Breathtaking personal story has self-harm, smoking.

Movie PG-13 2023 124 minutes
The Boy and the Heron Movie Poster: Mahito stands next to the ocean

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 8 parent reviews

age 13+

Truly beautiful film, but too intense for tweens.

This was a truly beautiful, affecting, and breathtaking film. That said, parts are very intense and sometimes quite violent and rather grotesque. It's a lovely film in the tradition of Miyazaki, but as with certain other Miyazaki films (e.g., Princess Mononoke), it's better suited to more mature children and adults. It was a bit much for my younger two children, and I regret having ignored the MPAA rating in favour of the Common Sense Media suggestion. I think the MPAA had this one right.
age 8+

Beautiful film from a legendary film studio

It’s a really good movie. It’s has some very heavy but necessary themes. The animation is amazing. The plot can be hard to follow and almost seems like two different movies which is understandable because the director Miyazaki changed some things last minute due to personal trauma with loss of a friend and co-worker. The film goes really hard with the concept of mortality, life, death, truth, lies, and lots of things. Worth it to see it in theaters but rewatches are necessary to understand everything going on.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (8 ):
Kids say (4 ):

Miyazaki hasn't lost his touch, creating another hand-drawn world that's infused with supernatural wonder. His illustrations in The Boy and the Heron are breathtaking, displaying nature with extraordinary gorgeousness -- like sun breaking through clouds or seeing what's under the surface of the water from a boat. The filmmaker's many decades of life have only allowed his imagination to flourish, leading to the movie's fantasy-infused version of his own childhood tragedy. The film is like the revered animator's version of Alice in Wonderland mixed with The Wizard of Oz: A tween facing a difficult moment unintentionally travels to a mysterious, magical, and dangerous world, following his curiosity and finding his courage. That said, this film is a complete original.

The movie's quieter, slower parts may lose some viewers. But Mahito's journey is an excellent one for kids to take part in, as the film shows that forces outside of our control can and will put our world into a tailspin, sometimes in painful and tragic ways. But that doesn't mean that life can't still be good.

Movie Details

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