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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Four Kids and It is a sweet magical adventure based on Jacqueline Wilson's children's book Four Children and It. Full of positive messages and life lessons, it's about smart, compassionate kids who understand that you don't need materialistic objects to enjoy life. Though they disobey their divorced parents' wishes and leave town without permission -- and argue with them frequently -- over time, they understand that their parents can find love again. The primary antagonist, Tristan (Russell Brand), does pose a threat, though he's presented as a caricatured mustache-twirling villain. He intimidates the children with a gun in one scene, and they use their powers in self-defense to throw him against a wall. There's also a moment when he catches fire, and there's some dangerous driving, too. But in the end, themes of curiosity, self-control, teamwork are clear.
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What's the story?
FOUR KIDS AND IT tells the story of Alice (Paula Patton) and David (Matthew Goode), two single parents who fall in love and decide to unite their families on a surprise holiday to the seaside. It's here that their four combined children discover the magical creature Psammead (voiced by Michael Caine), who has the power to grant them all wishes. But not without a catch, as local eccentric Tristan (Russell Brand) wants this power for himself.
Is it any good?
There's an enchantment to this movie that's enriched by positive messages, even if they are a little contrived at times. Four Kids and It is based on the popular Jacqueline Wilson book, which in turn is based on the famous E. Nesbit story Five Children and It -- itself turned into a movie in 2004. Capturing the essence of both imaginative novels, director Andy De Emmony has crafted a movie that can be enjoyed by all members of the family.
The casting is excellent, not just of the four young leads. Brand, as the movie's playful antagonist Tristan, steals the show. In fact, the one major shortcoming of the movie is that actor's lack of screen time. Caine is also brilliantly employed as the voice for the creature Psammead. It's fair to say that the budget was clearly modest, with the special effects somewhat lacking, giving Four Kids and It a TV movie feel. But this doesn't take too much away from a fun-filled and entertaining fantasy that easily passes the time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role of families in Four Kids and It. How does the family dynamic change throughout the movie? How does divorce impact a family -- both for children and parents?
Discuss the idea of friendship. The children in the movie make friends despite coming from different backgrounds. How does communication help with this? How can you use media to help your kid's communication skills?
The children are granted wishes in the movie. If you could wish for something, what would it be? What could you wish for that could help change the world for the better?
One of the children fulfills a dream of becoming a pop star. What do you want to be when you're older? Why? How might you start to achieve these dreams?
- On DVD or streaming: June 30, 2020
- Cast: Paula Patton, Matthew Goode, Michael Caine
- Director: Andy De Emmony
- Studio: Sky Cinema
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Holidays
- Character strengths: Compassion, Curiosity, Self-control, Teamwork
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, some rude/suggestive comments, fantasy violence and language
- Last updated: June 26, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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