Animated mystery has positive female role model, messages.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Fireheart is a delightful animated movie with plenty of positive messages and a strong teenage girl as the lead. Georgia (voiced by Olivia Cooke), is a 16-year-old girl in 1920s New York who wants to follow in her former-firefighter father's footsteps and join the force -- something that is forbidden at the time. When a series of arson attacks persuades her father -- Captain Nolan (Kenneth Branagh) -- out of retirement, she disguises herself as a boy so she can help solve the mystery. The movie is dedicated to real-life female firefighters and celebrates perseverance, encouragement, and teamwork. Georgia's father is protective of her but caring and calm in a crisis. He is a great leader who brings out the best in his team. The arson mystery has twists but is easy to follow. The peril is low as rather than fire, a glowing chemical is used so scenes aren't as distressing as they could be. There are mild scenes of threat but they are more exciting than worrying. One conversation involves a baby's parents dying in a fire -- an integral part of the plot -- which is handled sensitively.
Strong female lead passes Bechdel test and saves the day
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What's the Story?
In FIREHEART, 16-year-old girl Georgia (voiced by Olivia Cooke) disguises herself as a young man, Joe, to join the male-only fire department. When a mysterious spate of arson attacks draws her former-firefighter father, Shawn (Kenneth Branagh), out of retirement, he and his team -- Joe included -- investigate.
Is It Any Good?
A celebration of courage, teamwork, family, and empathy, this splendid animated adventure is a roaring success. With its undeniable subject of firefighters to display these admirable characteristics, Fireheart couldn't go far wrong. But by focusing on gender within the force it celebrates with a purpose. The movie is set in the 1920s, when "firemen" was the correct term because there was no such thing as anything but. The roll-call of real-life female firefighters from around the world whose photos appear in the credits is a proud salute to these women.
A kids movie playing with fire could be worrying, but here the horrific reality of infernal devastation is sidelined. Instead, a mysterious arsonist is using a chemical to burn theaters, so there are no flames, just an eerie glowing covering. But the edges aren't rounded off completely. A central story involves a child losing both parents in a fire and someone dedicating his life to protecting her. The tenderness and kindness that comes in these moments adds another layer of quality to an already solid movie.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what Fireheart teaches us about what it takes to be a firefighter. What character strengths does a person need to have to do a job that can sometimes be dangerous? How did Georgia show these qualities?
Were you surprised to hear that women used to be forbidden from becoming firefighters in the U.S.? Do you think everyone should have the chance to do a job they are suited to? Why is it important for kids to see a wide range of behavior from both genders in the media they consume?
What were Supreme Fury's motivations for doing what they did? Did you have any sympathy for them? Why or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: February 15, 2022
- Cast: Olivia Cooke, Kenneth Branagh, William Shatner
- Directors: Theodore Ty, Laurent Zeitoun
- Studio: Hulu
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Self-control, Teamwork
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: March 19, 2023
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