A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this black-and-white Shirley Temple musical includes a sequence in which little Star is forcibly taken from "Cap," the self-assigned guardian who has raised her since infancy. It's a sad moment, but is resolved soon afterward. In addition, there is an early brief mention of death in which Star asks Cap, "Does everyone have to die?" and "Will I die, too?" His answers are vague enough and gentle enough to be both satisfying and comforting to the child.
What's the story?
Star (Shirley Temple), an orphan, lives with Captain "Cap" January (Guy Kibbee), a retired sailor who runs a lighthouse. They adore each other, and she thrives having a large community of sailors as her extended family. Meddlesome Agatha Morgan (Sara Haden) tries to prove that Cap is not a suitable guardian for Star, and that she should be in school, but Star scores higher than her peers when tested. The lighthouse is automated and Cap loses his job, giving Morgan another chance to take Star away. So, Cap's friend tracks down Star's wealthy relatives, who come to get her. They do everything they can to make her happy, but finally realize that the girl needs Cap and her extended family. In the end, Star's relatives hire Cap and his friends to be the crew of their new boat.
Is it any good?
This is one of Shirley Temple's best movies, and it provides an opportunity to discuss some of the most sensitive issues facing some children. When Star is taken away from Cap, she asks, "Why are they taking me away from you? What have I done?" This provides the opportunity to talk to children about how many kids mistakenly blame themselves for problems created by the grown-ups around them. While the movie depicts the difficulty of finding work, especially after a job has been made obsolete, in the end, this is a "happily ever after" movie. Some children may not connect with the story's perfect ending in which a rather desperate situation is tied up into a neat package, just in the nick of time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the scene in which Star believes that Cap needs her to take care of him, and how while it's fun to role play, it is really the grown-up's responsibility to take care of the child. Also: Why does Paul try to get Mary to "bend the rules" for Star's test, and why won't she do it? How can you tell that Cap and Nazro are friends, even though they insult each other and argue? How does Star notice that Cap is sad? Nazro does not give Cap two important pieces of information -- what are they, and why doesn't he tell Cap? Star and Cap both give reasons they are glad to leave the lighthouse -- do you believe them? Why do they do that? Nazro says that children "forget quick." Is that right?
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