American Girl: Lea to the Rescue

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
American Girl: Lea to the Rescue Movie Poster Image
Action-packed jungle mystery has suspense, peril.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Introduces South American culture: its people, art, dance, foods, the Portuguese language, and the animals native to the jungle habitat. Scenes take place in a rainforest, a tribal village, and replicas of both the commercial and residential streets of Manaus, Brazil. (Note: It was shot in South Africa, which stands in for Brazil.)

Positive Messages

Promotes curiosity and awareness of other cultures. Values stressed include problem-solving, determination, follow-through, courage, and commitment to family. Perseverance and teamwork are additional themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

On one hand, the young heroine is strong, brave, loyal, and resourceful. On the other, in an effort to "come to the rescue," Lea disobeys her mother, putting herself in dangerous situations and places and risking others as well. Lea's mom is portrayed as brave and fiercely protective of her children, but she, too, makes impromptu decisions that put her in jeopardy. Portrays South American culture very positively, finding the beauty in a distinct people while emphasizing the commonality of all.

Violence & Scariness

Lots of action, with the young heroine in frequent peril. Lea has a number of close calls as she struggles through jungle terrain, crosses a treacherous river on a board, teeters on the edge of a railing, steps into a net trap, encounters potentially scary jungle creatures, and is chased, threatened, and captured by villains. A police-vs.-criminals climax shows fighting, guns drawn, and arrests.

Sexy Stuff

Another in the American Girl doll, toy, and movie franchise. Lea Clark is the 2016 Doll of the Year.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that American Girl: Lea to the Rescue is an adventure movie based on the 2016 American Girl Doll of the Year. A departure from the previous American Girl films, which have been either historical in nature or gently resolved issue-oriented stories, this film finds heroic 10-year-old Lea Clark far from home trying to rescue her kidnapped older brother from a gang of dangerous animal poachers. The suspenseful tale takes place in Brazil, where Lea must overcome a series of perilous events. Disobeying her mom, Lea is pursued by criminals, confronted by tribesmen, lost in the jungle, and repeatedly put in physical danger (falls, capture, the close presence of exotic wild animals). She shimmies up trees, crosses a river, and proves to be athletic and mostly effective. As in the other movies in the series, there are certainly positive messages (respect for other cultures, surprising friendships, accepting life's continuing changes), but those take a back seat to the movie's overall tone, which is one of mystery, adventure, and danger.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byOtterfish June 18, 2016

Not like the others.

This movie was very different from Saige, McKenna and Grace. Lots of suspense and danger in the plot. It is not about kid's issues , but rather about rea... Continue reading
Adult Written byAnnette D. May 23, 2018

Negative Overshadows Positive

My kids absolutely love animals, conservation, and we've generally liked American Girl; heck, I grew up loving their historical stuff, and still do, so wit... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCoolGirlClaire July 12, 2019

Eh, it’s okay

For years, I’ve watched American Girl movies, especially when I was younger, but this movie in my opinion was kind of boring. It’s not horrible, just not the be... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 10, 2019

It's honestly kind of cool!

I used to LOVE american girl movies. They usually weren't too scary, they had nice girls in them, and my parents liked the adult actors who were in them. P... Continue reading

What's the story?

Ten-year-old Lea Clark (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) can't help but be a little jealous of her older brother Zac's first important girlfriend in AMERICAN GIRL: LEA TO THE RESCUE. While working in a wildlife sanctuary in Brazil, Zac (Connor Dowds) met Paula (Laysla DeOliveira) and fell in love. Lea wonders anxiously, does that mean he's never going to come home for real? That bit of resentment turns to real fear when Zac disappears. Lea and her mother react quickly, setting off for Brazil together. Remembering that when he brought Paula home to meet them, Zac confided that he was concerned about "poachers" (thieves who steal wild animals and sell them), Lea is doubly frightened. Despite her mother's instructions to stay and wait in Paula's home, Lea takes matters into her own hands. She cajoles Paula into a nonstop adventure through the Amazon jungle and the streets of Manaus to track the poachers, find Zac, and save the animals.

Is it any good?

While this American Girl is an intrepid sleuth -- a go-getter who calls on her skills and smarts to win the day -- some weak acting, inept villains, and silly plotting undermine the result. Still, American Girl: Lea to the Rescue is a bright movie: Lea sparkles, Brazil is colorful and vibrant, and the animals are beautifully photographed. What's more, Lea uncovers a wonderful truth about her grandmother and spends quality time with Aki (Storm Reid), an adorable counterpart in a world far from her own. It's nice to see the American Girl people developing adventure stories for their characters. It will be even nicer when they get it just right.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the character of Lea in American Girl: Lea to the Rescue. How is she different from most of the American Girls/dolls who've come before her? What skills does she have that surprised you?

  • How does the American Girl brand expand their product line and find new buyers by issuing a Doll of the Year? Why is it important to be aware of toy franchises' marketing strategies? How does your family handle the pressures of an ever-increasing amount of American Girl merchandise and films? 

  • Lea was courageous and determined in her quest, but she disobeyed her mom in a big way. It worked for this story, but should there have been consequences for her behavior?

  • What did Lea learn about Brazil? Does this movie inspire you to find out more about that country? Where could you go to get more information about Brazil, its people, and the Amazon jungle?

  • How do the characters in American Girl: Lea to the Rescue demonstrate curiosity, perseverance, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure

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