A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Highlights Magazine has always upheld the ideal of "fun with a purpose," and this documentary shows how that ideal has evolved in the 70 years since the magazine first started. Diversity, tolerance, and inclusion.
Positive Role Models
The editors and artists of Highlights Magazine are shown engaging in and discussing their work for the magazine. Documentary provides a glimpse into the day-to-day realities for those who work on the children's magazine.
Violence & Scariness
One of the writers tells an anecdote of how a kidnapped girl who was raped and gave birth to two children from her kidnapper was given access to Highlights Magazine, and how the two children also got to read it. Talk of kids writing letters about abuse and the Sandy Hook mass shooting.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Off-color joke between editors concerning the word "fluffer."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Pictures of one of the founders of Highlights smoking a pipe. Talk of kids writing letters about alcoholism.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 44 Pages is a 2018 documentary about the history and making of Highlights Magazine. Much of the documentary is devoted to the day-to-day operation of the magazine. The inner workings might be on the dull side for younger kids but will be of interest for older kids and teens interested in pursuing a career in writing, editing, art, or design. The documentary shows how Highlights has tried to live up to its "Fun with a Purpose" motto, and how they've evolved over the 70 years of the publication to address how kids have changed over the decades. There's one off-color quip made between editors that will most likely go over most kids' heads. One of the writers tells an anecdote of how Highlights was one of the only magazines a kidnapped girl (who was raped and gave birth to two kids from the kidnapper) was allowed to read. Talk of kids writing letters about abuse, alcoholism, and the Sandy Hook shooting. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
While it's an informative and comprehensive look at Highlights Magazine on the occasion of its 70th anniversary, this documentary gets lost in the inner workings at the expense of the overall story. While the day-to-day working realities of editors and designers in the Highlights office might be interesting for superfans of the magazine and for those wishing to pursue a career in those fields, watching others read manuscripts or stare at computer screens isn't the most engaging fare. Too often, the behind-the-scenes of how the magazine gets made takes precedence over Highlights' evolution from beloved children's magazine and staple of doctor's offices everywhere to a magazine rooted in ideals and tradition that must constantly address the contemporary reality of putting out a print magazine for children who are surrounded by portable electronic devices and digital media.
Despite being dry at times, the documentary manages to strike a nice balance between the nostalgia one might feel for Goofus and Gallant and how the Highlights of today is a magazine that's willing to address the concerns of today's children. That mean that beside evergreen topics like first crushes and arguments with close friends, Highlights also addresses kids' concerns about climate change, mass shootings in schools, and how "family" is defined now as opposed to when the magazine started in 1946. Even in the midst of so much change, the "Fun with a Purpose" ideal comes through in 44 Pages, from everyone working at Highlights to what comes out in each issue.
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.