5 Children & It

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
5 Children & It Movie Poster Image
Funny wish-granting story has some mild scariness.
  • NR
  • 2004
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Comic fantasy meant to entertain, but historical setting provides some insight into life in England during World War I.

Positive Messages

Aside from the classic and obvious "be careful what you wish for," there are strong positive messages about family unity, that magic fades away so in the end it's up to you to accomplish your dreams, and that taking the easy way out only causes more problems. The sisters manipulate their cousin by telling him they're "only girls," and it works, but they immediately afterward say that they didn't like having to do that. A brief scene makes wishing look like praying, and right afterward something miraculous happens.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cyril, Anthea, and Jane are all good role models. Each helps take care of their toddler brother, tries to do what's right, and learns from mistakes. Middle brother Robert is impulsive and quick-tempered, which gets him into trouble, but he eventually learns to be more responsible and that there are different ways of caring, and showing you care, about things. Uncle Albert is eccentric but caring, and he and Martha model a good working relationship. Horace is mean and snobby, but changes for the better after he learns the value of family and friends.

Violence & Scariness

Some mild to moderate scariness. Separation from parents is a recurring theme, including a couple of tearful goodbye scenes and worry when the father goes missing in action. Everything has a safe resolution. Dark corridors and mysterious, slightly tense music. A kid claims to have a monster collection in the basement and performs an experiment on a doll, dipping it into a solution that makes it dissolve, and then brandishing the severed doll's head to scare other kids. Peril from fantasy sequences, including almost being hit by a dirigible and a giant T-Rex that lurks in the dark and roars. A fantasy creature is tied to a table, and a kid brandishes a knife and threatens to dissect it.

Sexy Stuff

Some name-calling and verbal hostility, like calling someone "horrible." Some bodily function noises played for comedy.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are wine glasses and a decanter on the dinner table. The children have water, and an adult holds a glass of wine but isn't shown drinking from it.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRonjasMom October 1, 2019

A not-so-great adaptation of a pretty good book

In contrast to the book, one child, Robert, is made central and is rendered annoying and whiny. A cruel cousin is added, and while I wouldn't normally wis... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old November 26, 2017

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

Character Strengths

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