Lilly's Light: The Movie

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Lilly's Light: The Movie Movie Poster Image
Upbeat singer delights foster kids in her lighthouse.
  • NR
  • 2010
  • 60 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Anything is possible. Be a lighthouse, not a candle, because candles can blow out in the wind. Just use your imagination and you can't go wrong. Life is full of possibility.

Positive Role Models

Lilly is helpful, kind, and empathetic. The kids she fosters are welcoming and warm. All the neighbors are helpful and generous.

Violence & Scariness

 A boy is sad because his grandmother died.

Sexy Stuff
Language

"Poop."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know Lilly's Light: The Movie is a 2010 made-for-TV children's movie conceived of and cowritten by, and also starring, Sherry Hursey (of Home Improvement). It's aimed at kids in the Sesame Street and Barney & Friends age range. A sad child loses his grandmother and faces life on his own. Lilly collects foster kids whose parents aren't in the picture, but the focus is on positive thinking and songs and dancing. The movie offers preschoolers a generally upbeat and cheerful point of view.

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What's the story?

Lilly (Sherry Hursey) grew up as a foster child and now that she's an adult, she runs a lighthouse where she cares for and entertains a happy group of foster kids in LILLY'S LIGHT: THE MOVIE. Offering a warm and caring embrace to all who need it, Lilly sings practically nonstop and her high spirits inspire all the kids in her care as well as the town's peripheral characters, talking animals, and animated creatures, to join in. In the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood mold, the movie strives to offer helpful messages that kids can absorb, including: Cheer up! Anything is possible. Be a lighthouse, not a candle, because candles can blow out in the wind. Just use your imagination and you can't go wrong. Life is full of possibility. Nary a moment goes by without some push to help oneself or others. The magic lighthouse offers magical views and a basement housing The Big Book of Little Adventures, which only appears when kids are "ready" for its messages. Animals talk, and animated monsters are tamed and friendly. Young Daniel (Vitor Nogueira) loses his grandmother and has no place to stay, so Lilly and her kids welcome him. Local townspeople are all helpful and kind.

Is it any good?

As she kindly reaches out to kids in need, Lilly couldn't be more well-meaning, but it can sometimes feel as if she uses her unfailing optimism to force depressed kids into sunny submission. When the orphaned Daniel says he can't open himself up to new friends, she just sings to him over and over to open his heart and, presto, without any processing or apparent reason, he drops all resistance and joins the rest of Lilly's upbeat brood. Lilly's Light: The Movie suggests that with a little time, anyone, no matter how traumatized and no matter the nature of the trauma, can recover from anything. While this is an optimistic viewpoint, it also feels dismissive of kids who have undergone catastrophes, the implication being that if they don't join the others in good cheer, there's something either wrong with them or they're just plain stubborn. Even the wildly popular Barney, TV's optimistic purple dinosaur, acknowledged at times that anger and sadness weren't necessarily controllable, allowing kids to have their feelings without being burdened by the pressure to abandon them.

That said, preschoolers may enjoy the constant smiles and singing and dancing. Anyone older, however, may tire of the chaotic narrative, camera work, and editing that leaves us confused by seemingly unnecessary chronology jumps and jumpy story lines.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how difficult it must be to be a foster child, as portrayed in Lilly's Light: The Movie.  How does Lilly help such kids emphasize the goodness in life?

  • Characters here burst into song suddenly throughout the movie, which doesn't happen in real life. How does that fit into the idea that the lighthouse is magical and that Lilly wants everyone to be cheerful and positive all the time?

  • How do the kids and Lilly help Daniel get over his sadness? Are there times in life when being sad is a normal reaction? What is an example?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love preschool fun

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