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 video portrays abused children, sweatshop labor, and wartime fighting. But it also presents heroine Heidi as a strong female role model: She's brave, good-hearted, and shows leadership to untangle a group of girls from several perilous situations. Girls especially will empathize with Heidi who, at that age between child and young woman, experiences love and loss and sets a brave example for her schoolmates.
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What's the story?
It's 1915, and Heidi (Juliette Caton) isn't a little girl anymore. On the verge of young womanhood, she leaves her beloved Grandfather (Jan Rubes), their rustic home in the Swiss Alps, and her friend Peter (Charlie Sheen) to attend a boarding school in northern Italy. When war breaks out and the school becomes a military post for the Italian army, Heidi and a few classmates are transferred to a horrid orphanage where they're underfed and overworked. Heidi leads the escape. Unaware that the wicked caretaker is pursuing them across the snowy Alps, she strikes a course for home. Can Peter, who's now a soldier, rescue the girls before any harm comes to them?
Is it any good?
For young viewers, there are hints of a good story here. There's Heidi, a spunky girl who isn't afraid to stand up for what's right. There's also a loving grandfather, and a caring schoolmistress who helps Heidi adjust to her strange new surroundings and taunting schoolmates. Spice that up with a little love and war and a dangerous trek across the Swiss Alps, and it sounds downright palatable. But a hundred years ago, author Johanna Spyri probably didn't foresee her beloved children's character Heidi growing up, going to boarding school, breaking out of a Dickensian orphanage, and being pursued across the Swiss Alps by a gun-toting madman. Why somebody else did is something of a mystery.
The main issue in COURAGE MOUNTAIN is the implausible script, which is emphasized at times by some heavy-handed direction. The movie's villain is so vile, so dastardly, that he puts Around the World in 80 Days' Phileas Fogg and Babes in Toyland's Barnaby both to shame. His gruel-powered sweatshop of an orphanage would be funny if it wasn't so out of place. That he gets his comeuppance in a fairly gruesome manner is sure to delight children. For star power there's Charlie Sheen, who should be Swiss but makes no attempt to disguise his Hollywood accent. That's okay. This one's for the girls, who will find him dreamy in his Italian army uniform and impeccable haircut. Youth passes too quickly. Let them have their fun.
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