A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Big focus on environmental awareness and marine conservation with detail about dolphins and the dangers of drift net fishing. Conversations about poetry and characters reading poems aloud. Some mildly philosophical discussions about life and death.
Being and believing in yourself, as well as teamwork, are the main takeaways. Also the importance of having respect for nature. Academically bright characters are celebrated, as is the joy of learning. The value of a strong family bond is explored, particularly that of a grandparent and grandchild.
Positive Role Models
Vicky is spirited, intelligent, and creative but her lack of ego makes her relatable. She and her siblings are clearly high-achievers but are depicted as bright and driven as opposed to nerdy. Adam is passionate and nurturing, showing kindness and respect to animals and humans alike. Grandfather is charismatic, loving, supportive, and understanding -- Vicky trusts and confides in him.
Violence & Scariness
One beach scene sees a young character pulled under the waves as others try to rescue them. A long dramatic scene in which a dolphin is caught in a drift net. The tension increases further when a character is dragged underwater and nearly drowns. A character passes away after a terminal illness. Brief mention of an earlier death of a parent.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Three brief -- and chaste -- kissing scenes between teens, which results in an innocent love triangle.
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Products & Purchases
One character drives a Porsche and has a jet ski, yacht, and speed boat. Brief product placement when characters are wearing branded cycle helmets.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Ring of Endless Light is a sweet Disney TV movie -- based on Madeleine L'Engle's book -- with some emotional moments, but plenty of positive vibes, and stars Mischa Barton. Characters show trust and respect, while messages include believing in yourself and cherishing your relationships. There is an emphasis on environmental awareness and the value of being passionate and intelligent. Some dramatic scenes involve trapped dolphins and characters in danger of drowning. Spoiler alert: Following a terminal illness, Grandfather (James Whitmore) passes away, which makes for some philosophical conversations and, of course, sadness. One character's mention of his mother's death the previous year is glossed over rather flippantly. But overall this thought-provoking story has the feel-good factor with strong family bonds, wholesome teen romance, and irresistible dolphins. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Loosely based on the much-loved novel by Madeleine L'Engle, this made-for-TV Disney movie from 2002 was not well received by fans of the book -- but don't let that put you off. A Ring of Endless Light stands up just fine as a warm-hearted kid-friendly drama that -- in a nod to the original story -- addresses notions of life and death. Hardened cynics might struggle with the "communicating with dolphins" plot line. But what could have been corny or fantastical is treated as a scientific possibility, and somehow feels just about plausible.
The idyllic summertime scenery and cast of passionate, intelligent teenage characters makes for a satisfying, enjoyable set-up -- somewhat reminiscent of 1990s/2000s TV hit Dawson's Creek. Add to the mix a gorgeous family of dolphins in peril and a wise old grandfather (tenderly played by Whitmore) and the result is good wholesome entertainment for the whole family.
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.