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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 5 Children & It is a comic fantasy about kids who find a wish-granting fairy. The fairy itself looks more like the Grinch than Tinkerbell, but it's a good fairy and befriends the kids. Separation from parents is a strong theme; there are a couple of tearful goodbye scenes and tension and worry when the father goes missing in action. Other scariness in the real world includes a kid dissolving a doll, dark corridors and tunnels, and some slightly tense music. Fantasy scariness includes a T-Rex lurking and roaring, and kids nearly getting hit by dirigibles when they're flying. Positive messages about being careful what you wish for and how taking the easy way out only makes more trouble in the end; also about family unity and standing by one another. The biggest wish of all adds an element of prayer right before something miraculous happens, so it's a good chance to talk to kids about how your values and faith distinguish wishing from praying.
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What's the story?
5 CHILDREN & IT meet on a hidden beach in the countryside during World War I. The five children are siblings who are sent to live with their eccentric uncle (Kenneth Branagh) while their father's off fighting and their mother cares for the wounded. "It" (Eddie Izzard) turns out to be a sand fairy who grants wishes. When Cyril, Anthea, Robert (Freddie Highmore), and Jane uncover It, they're convinced that their problems are over. They start with avoiding chores, move on to buckets of gold, and look forward to being granted a new wish every day. They soon learn that taking the easy way out only makes things worse, so they determine not to make any more wishes. But when their father, a fighter pilot, goes missing in action, can they find a way to make one more wish work out right this time?
Is it any good?
This classic wish-granting story is a good mix of humor, mystery, and adventure, sure to be enjoyed by kids old enough to handle parental separation and some mild to moderate scariness. 5 Children & It has characters of varying ages that a large range of kids will relate to. It's also got a big mansion to explore, an eccentric uncle to puzzle over, and a mean cousin to avoid, and what kid can resist being granted a new wish every day?
Kenneth Branagh is fun to watch as odd Uncle Albert. But it doesn't quite reach the level of a true family classic. Some of the dialogue is awkward, and the kid actors are serviceable but not great. Eddie Izzard's accent is odd. Younger viewers won't mind, though, as they get caught up in the adventure, and it's a good choice for sleepovers or family movie nights.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the wishes in 5 Children & It always go wrong. Why is that? What would you wish for, and how would you keep it from backfiring on you?
Did you know this movie was based on a popular English children's book written in the early 1900s? Would you like to read it now?
What are some of your favorite movies, TV shows, or books about getting your wishes granted? What do you like about them?
- In theaters: October 14, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: July 5, 2005
- Cast: Freddie Highmore, Kenneth Branagh, Zoe Wanamaker, Eddie Izzard
- Director: John Stephenson
- Studio: Capitol Films
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, History
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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