Parents' Guide to

Emily and the Magical Journey

By JK Sooja, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Fantasy-adventure has scary moments, little magic.

Movie NR 2020 86 minutes
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This modestly-scaled adventure means well, but can be confusing and at times terrifying. With limited production values Emily and the Magical Journey is a short dream of a fairy tale but light on explication and exposition. Not much is revealed about the magical world of Faunutland, its creatures, or Emily's fairy guide, Nightinglar. Not much is explained either about how Emily's tears save Faunutland or why Faunutland's restoration causes Emily's mother to snap out of her mourning funk. The risk here is that this may suggest to kids that it's up to them to fix their parents' problems or sadness.

The positive messages of perseverance, courage, and importance of family mean well in this mini-fable, but are unfortunately often obscured by sudden tone shifts, moments of terror, and other confusing elements. The sudden back and forth between a serious and sad tone with a whimsical and magical one is startling and at times disturbing, like when Emily first heads into her father's office library and when Emily delves the cave inside the Well of Echoes. In the cave things get particularly scary as whispers increase in volume and in degree of horribleness: "You'll never make it," "It's all your fault," "Your mother doesn't love you," "She will never love you as much as she loved your father," "It's your fault your father is dead," and even, "Your mother wishes you were dead instead of your father." After enough, Emily breaks down sobbing and repeatedly yells, "Stop it!" Then without explanation the whispers stop, Emily recovers, grabs the crystal, and gets out of the Well of Echoes. This suggests that Emily's thing to overcome in the cave involved simply hearing and withstanding the horrible untruths?

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