D.W. and the Beastly Birthday
By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Positive social messages in likable Arthur special.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Strong messages of positive behavior, compassion, friendship.
Kids see both D.W. and Arthur learn valuable lessons about getting along with other people. In D.W.'s case, she discovers that being a good friend is more important than being the boss all the time.
Positive Role Models
At the start of the story, Arthur actively avoids his sister's birthday festivities, and D.W. gets grumpy when her birthday events don't go as planned. Both have a change of heart when they see how their selfishness affects other people, and they change their behavior accordingly.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that D.W. and the Beastly Birthday is an Arthur special where Arthur and his little sister learn about the importance of selflessness in relationships with friends and siblings. D.W. starts the story with some ghastly behavior, complaining about the aspects of her birthday party that don't suit her and yelling orders at her friends during games, but these help emphasize the eventual change of heart she has as the tale evolves. Arthur also learns to better appreciate someone he's taken for granted when he sees the issue from a different point of view. This appealing story has elements of imagination, mystery, and even time travel.
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D.W. and the Beastly Birthday
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What's the Story?
In D.W. AND THE BEASTLY BIRTHDAY, it's D.W.'s (voiced by Christian Distefano) fifth birthday, and she couldn't be more excited. She's been dropping hints for weeks about a certain new toy, she's planned her party and her guest list, and she's told her parents exactly how she wants her cake. But what does she get? A rainy day, one party disappointment after another, and no coveted gift. So when her imaginary friend Nadine (Hayley Reynolds) gives her a ticket to a magical island that grants every wish, D.W. is sure this is the answer. Meanwhile, Arthur (Jacob Ursomarzo) heads to the planetarium with his friends instead of attending his little sister's party, but a glimpse into the future makes him rethink his haste to avoid spending time with her.
Is It Any Good?
This enjoyable TV special puts its characters in relatable predicaments that teach kids important lessons about looking past themselves and considering other people's feelings. D.W. is hardly a rarity as the self-centered 5-year-old who considers her special day ruined when a friend's outfit outshines her own, and her coping mechanism -- hiding from everyone to test their dedication to finding her -- will ring true with many kids. The story puts her road to awareness in a realistic context, letting her enjoy the power of always getting her way for a while before she acknowledges that these kinds of relationships aren't avenues to happiness.
Arthur's change of heart is less formulaic but still very effective in communicating its own positive message about the importance of valuing sibling relationships. D.W. and the Beastly Birthday's lessons stand out in this story that's engaging enough for parents to watch with their kids. You don't need to be an Arthur fan already to enjoy what this special has to offer, but it will help you better understand the characters' relationships from the start.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about coping with disappointment. Kids: Can you relate to D.W.'s feelings in D.W. and the Beastly Birthday about her party and gifts? Is it OK to show it when you're disappointed about something? What about when doing so might hurt someone else's feelings?
How do the characters show their changing commitment to being compassionate? What other positive qualities do you see in their behavior? Why is compassion an important character strength?
D.W. and Arthur learned their lessons by way of some magical journeys. How do you stay open to learning in everyday life? When you're faced with something you've done wrong, do you accept it as an opportunity to change for the better?
- In theaters: June 2, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: August 14, 2018
- Cast: Christian Distefano, Jacob Ursomarzo, Hayley Reynolds
- Director: Greg Bailey
- Studio: PBS Distribution
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Character Strengths: Compassion
- Run time: 56 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: March 31, 2022
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