A Magical Journey

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
A Magical Journey Movie Poster Image
Muddled fantasy-adventure has peril, some mild language.
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 94 minutes

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Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Kids can be brave and clever. Family matters.

Positive Role Models

Many adults behave in an abusive way toward kids. Others help the children. Polina shows courage and ingenuity in escaping danger and attempting to solve a mystery. She and her group of mostly kids help each other out, even at risk to themselves.

Diverse Representations

Some international accents heard here even in dubbed English version. Three different men have physical disabilities.


A child is locked in her room and her aunt and cousin try to poison her. She's told her parents are dead, and we later see how two members of her family did die in a fire (caused by another relative). She's chased by men, and finds herself in a series of dangerous situations. In one, she's in a war-ravaged landscape and sees a man taken hostage at gunpoint. In another, schoolchildren are made to wear dunce caps, threatened by a teacher, and shut into a cage at the back of a classroom. Men engage in fist and sword fights, where one dies but is brought back to life, and a man gets hit over the head with a pan. A woman directs her servants to prepare a child for her to eat for dinner. A man threatens to conduct experiments on kids and tries to electrocute a small boy, getting electrocuted himself. A young girl and a grown man engage in a boxing match where they both get thrown around, as does another man who jumps in to help.


A man tells a young girl to kiss a frog and see if it turns into a prince, and that she'll need to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. A man and a woman kiss and snuggle.


"Damn," "hell," "ass," "idiot."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A woman smokes cigarettes. A group of soldiers drink out of a bottle and appear drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Ukrainian/Belgian film A Magical Journey is a child-centric fantasy adventure where kids face a variety of threats. Among them, getting chased, locked up, nearly poisoned, threatened with electrocution, mocked, almost cooked for dinner, thrown to the ground, and chased by adults. Other men are beaten up, killed then brought back to life, hit over the head, thrown around, electrocuted, taken hostage at gun point, and tied up. A young girl watches how two members of her family die in a fire that was intentionally set by another relative. All of this is played for fantasy, as if inside different movies, but the dangers are real to the characters. Language includes "damn," "hell," "ass," "idiot." There's occasional cigarette smoking and one scene where a group of men appear to be drunk. A young girl is told to kiss a frog to see if he turns into a prince.

User Reviews

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Kid, 9 years old November 26, 2021

What's the story?

A MAGICAL JOURNEY sees 11-year-old Polina (Polina Pechenenko) escape her abusive home, where she lives with an aunt and grown male cousin, to try to find out what happened to her missing parents. She knows the mystery involves a movie studio, and once there, a man (Jean Reno) appears to her in a hologram and tells her she must piece together the sections of a family photo in order to solve the mystery before midnight, when she turns 12. Her search for the missing pieces of the photo takes her to different stages in the studio, each of which sends her into a different setting, or movies starring a shared cast of actors. She must escape a variety of threatening situations on the various sets, and in between she's still being chased by her cousin. Some of the actors help her and others seem intent on hurting her or the new friends she's made.

Is it any good?

There's an adage in storytelling that encourages writers to "show, don't tell"; this film could have benefited from that advice. Instead, A Magical Journey relies heavily on a character's recollection of events to compensate for a disjointed storyline that doesn't add up to much of anything. An oddball collection of characters moves from disconnected setting to setting, or more accurately, from soundstage to soundstage of a magical movie studio, as a young girl tries to solve a mystery by midnight.

The adventure leaves nothing for viewers to grab onto -- no fully-developed characters, no hoped-for outcome. Other aspects add to the weirdness, including some poorly-dubbed actors in the English version and dismal attempts at humor (?) often involving kids getting hurt. A final fight scene made to look like an early-era video game is vexing. French veteran Jean Reno's apparition as an omniscient hologram does nothing to lift the proceedings, nor does the presence of a few other familiar faces. Take a pass on this muddled journey.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the idea of going "behind the screen" or inside a movie, as Polina does in A Magical Journey. What movie would you like to go inside of?

  • Polina narrowly escapes danger in many scenes. How does she rely on the help of others to save herself? How does she help others stay safe?

  • Of all the worlds Polina enters, which felt the most realistic? Which the least? Did any remind you of other movies you've watched?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and epic tales

Themes & Topics

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