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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Elena and the Secret of Avalor tells the story of how Sofia freed Elena from her magical prison inside an amulet, which is hinted at in the characters' respective Disney series, Sofia the First and Elena of Avalor. The tale brings together many of the players in each show and fills in the gaps in the princesses' histories for fans. There are some moments that might frighten kids, particularly when an evil sorceress eliminates Elena's parents (they're consumed in green smoke and presumed dead) and entraps her in the amulet; she also threatens Elena and her friends after she returns. However, these scenes are short-lived and easily overshadowed by the two strong female roles, who are resourceful, courageous, and dedicated to doing the right thing. If your kids haven't seen one or both of these series, they (and possibly you) will want to after watching this sweet movie.
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What's the story?
ELENA AND THE SECRET OF AVALOR spins the tale of the long imprisonment of Princess Elena (voiced by Aimee Carrero) in a magical amulet and her eventual liberty by the young Princess Sofia (Ariel Winter) of Enchancia. Four decades ago, Elena's kingdom was conquered by an evil sorceress named Shuriki (Jane Fonda), who disposed of the king and queen and took over rule herself. Elena was saved by ancient magic that pulled her into her own amulet, which many years later wound up with Sofia. Upon learning the truth behind the necklace, Sofia sets out to free Elena with the help of some of Avalor's residents still loyal to their true royal family. As Elena challenges Shuriki for the throne, she learns the fate of her beloved grandparents and younger sister, Isabel, and gives new hope to the downtrodden people of her kingdom.
Is it any good?
Bridging Sofia's and Elena's stories, this movie is a must-see for fans of either (or both) of the popular Disney princess shows. Assembling all the major players from both characters' lives, this heartwarming tale shows how the two princesses' destinies crossed by way of the amulet King Roland gave to Sofia when he welcomed her to his family. Of course, the story will resonate most with those who have watched both shows, but it's so adept at crafting an efficient backstory that it also can serve as an introduction to the princesses and their respective shows.
With magic, talking animals, songs, and sweet themes about the enduring connections among families, Elena and the Secret of Avalor is a charming movie to watch with your youngsters. Another happy takeaway is the story's emphasis on following your heart and doing the right thing even when it's not the easy thing. Tasked with an adult-size challenge like traveling to a distant land and tracking down the secret to freeing a captive princess, Sofia does what she does best: She assesses her resources, calls on her friends, and, above all, never gives up. Facing a destiny she doesn't think she's ready for, Elena also finds inspiration in her family and in her new friend, Sofia.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what motivates the characters in Elena and the Secret of Avalor. Why does Sofia risk everything to help Elena? Are there limits to what you would do to help someone? Why is Shuriki so greedy? What does she lose because of it?
Kids: How do you find courage when you need it? Does it help to have others around? To whom do you turn for help or advice when you need it?
If your kids have seen Sofia the First and/or Elena of Avalor, talk about how this movie fills in the holes in their respective stories. Do you have a better understanding of who they are now that you've seen this? Does your impression of either change as a result?
- In theaters: November 20, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: February 7, 2017
- Cast: Ariel Winter, Aimee Carrero, Jane Fonda
- Director: Jamie Mitchell
- Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses and Fairies, Book Characters, Great Girl Role Models, Music and Sing-Along
- Character Strengths: Courage
- Run time: 54 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
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