Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Canela Movie Poster Image
Subtitled film about grief and cooking is heavy but sweet.
  • PG
  • 2013
  • 101 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Canela offers strongly positive messages about taking time to grieve and the importance of moving on. It also espouses strong family associations and the importance of community, tradition, and maintaining intergenerational relationships.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are realistic and relatable. Most adults are present and engaged, and some are selfish or mean-spirited. Children are realistically innocent and knowing.


There are very minor instances of scary injury or roughness. In one scene, a woman shoves a man out of his seat. In another, a woman grabs a child by the arm roughly. A woman slips and falls and breaks her arm. An older woman has a heart attack but survives. Throughout the film is the heavy tone of grief and loss.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In one scene, adults have wine with dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Canela's premise involves a young girl whose mother has died and who reappears on occasion to guide her. Additionally, the young girl's guardian grandmother has a heart attack but survives. Overall, it's an upbeat story, but children dealing with the loss of a parent could be keenly affected. It's also subtitled with a long run time of 101 minutes, so it's a must that viewers are quick, skilled readers with a good attention span.

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What's the story?

Family restaurant El Molcajete and its traditional Mexican fare were once the pride and joy of Maria (Isabela Yudice), her mother, and her grandmother Dona Tere (Ana Martin), where, on occasion, they all cooked together. But when her daughter passed away, Tere couldn't go back into the kitchen, and now competitive chef Rosi is running the show. Maria just wants to get her grandmother back to cooking at the restaurant so they can continue the tradition together; only, now the two of them must try to stop Rosi from trading the cherished customs of the past in favor of the latest fleeting culinary trends.

Is it any good?

CANELA is a vibrantly shot, heavy, but uplifting subtitled film about a young girl's passion for cooking and her love for her family. Set in Mexico, it's a sweet tale of grief, intergenerational love, and what it means to honor tradition and still live in the present, and it nimbly intertwines the pain of grief with the joy of childhood and the mischief of adventure.

Kids (and parents) who enjoy cooking will appreciate the comical kitchen rivalry. Parents can appreciate the arguments here for tradition versus flash-in-the-pan trends as well as the terrific girl role model found in Maria. But, for all its humor, due to more mature themes of grief and loss, it's best for older kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about doing things the old way versus the new. What are good reasons for honoring traditions? What are good reasons for keeping up with the times?

  • Have you ever had a rivalry with a friend or schoolmate over something? What was it? How did it turn out?

  • Everyone processes grief differently. Have you or has your family lost a person or pet dear to you? How did you deal with it?

Movie details

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