A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Have faith in yourself and your abilities. Curiosity and courage are important strengths. Power can be used for good and bad. There is often more to things than meets the eye.
Positive Role Models
Paul is kind and curious about the world around him, though lacks self-confidence and has to dig deep to find the courage to do the right thing. Sophie comes across as arrogant and standoffish at first, but gradually drops her mask to show a caring, vulnerable, and fun-loving side. Humphrey reveals himself to be maniacal and bent on using his power for personal gain, though also reveals some past struggles that garner a level of sympathy.
The main character is a White man, though the cast shows some ethnic diversity in the prominent supporting cast, including actors of African, South Asian, and East Asian descent. Fellow intern Sophie is given complexity at the start, but quickly becomes little more than the love interest. Both the receptionist and room of female typists are dressed in 1950s-style costume, with a separate room of men doing manual labor, their roles adhering to gender stereotypes. While there are women higher up in the organization, it is the male characters that become most central to the plot.
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Violence & Scariness
Gruesome dream sequence of bones bending, teeth falling out, and ears expanding. Magic fireballs thrown, characters zapped by magic forces, objects thrown, and walls destroyed. Characters are pushed to the ground and descended upon by Goblins. Scary scenes in the dark with a Goblin chasing people. Jump scares, roars and screams heard, fires break out, a vivisected mouse is shown in a jar, a toaster explodes with sparks, and there is talk of signing away souls.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flirtation. Mention of affairs. A character shows attraction to office supplies and licks a stapler seductively. Kisses on lips.
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Infrequent language includes "s--t," "bloody," "hell," "git," "sod," "arse," "damn," and name-calling such as "greasy, pug-nosed parasite," and "lardy."
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Products & Purchases
Ian McEwan's book Atonement and Fortnum & Mason are both mentioned. Magic abilities are discussed in terms of helping control the public for the sake of corporations, although this is reflected in a negative light. The movie is based on a series of YA books.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention of pub. Later characters are seen drinking alcohol in a pub.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Portable Door is a fantasy film, based on a YA novel of the same name, that will appeal to older children, teens, and adults alike. When Paul Carpenter (Patrick Gibson) starts an internship at a mysterious London firm run by crazed CEO Humphrey Wells (Christoph Waltz), Paul soon discovers that all is not what it seems. There are some scary scenes involving magic fireballs and Goblins, and a dream sequence shows gruesome body distortions. There is mild flirtation and kisses on the lips, and characters drink alcohol in a pub on one occasion. Infrequent language includes "s--t," "arse," and "damn." Paul shows courage and curiosity, as well being kind and sensitive at times, which are great character strengths to see on-screen. Jim Henson Company puppets help bring the magical element alive, along with special effects, and the familiar territory makes this a safe if not wildly original bet for fantasy fans. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Based on a popular YA fantasy novel -- the first in a seven-part series by Tom Holt -- this fun but familiar movie finds its true magic in the impressive cast and stylish, beautifully-lit settings. While Gibson and Wilde hold the screen well, it's Waltz's maniacal Humphrey and Sam Neill's oddly gleeful right-hand man Dennis who steal the limelight throughout The Portable Door. The distinctive flair of the Jim Henson Company really brings the magical creatures to life, and the stuffy, off-kilter sets give a sense of a corporate Hogwarts, just as full of secrets and nonsensical rules. Some moments of humor land better than others, and the plot itself gets a little tied up in its own enthusiasm at times. But this is an enjoyable, well-produced family fantasy that will have a wide appeal, if not quite the spark worthy of a future franchise.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.