A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this animated Finnish film (re-voiced for English-speaking audiences) is a sequel to 2008's The Flight Before Christmas and includes a very scary wolf, small creatures in jeopardy, lots of spooky/suspenseful scenes, and frequent cartoon action (falls, captures, threats). It's best suited for kids who are clear about the differences between real and pretend violence. The film includes important messages about telling the truth, taking responsibility for one's actions, and the value of community. Central to the story is a family of reindeer who must resolve the hurts and stresses of parents who live apart and then begin to integrate new members into their family unit.
What's the story?
Niko, an intrepid young reindeer, has great fun on a pre-Christmas visit with his dad, who just happens to be Prancer, one of Santa's exciting and famous "Flying Forces." Returning home to his mom's, however, brings big news and BIG changes. Niko's mom has found a new partner and along with him, Johnny, a new little brother. Happily, Oona tells her son, they're all going to be a family. But Niko isn't at all happy. In fact, his anger and irresponsible behavior results in little Johnny's being carried off in the talons of an eagle. The little reindeer is in great danger. Niko, ashamed and frightened, sets out with some furry friends to find Johnny. Their quest sends them into the lair of an evil wolf, desperate to avenge her brother's death at the hands of Niko (in an earlier movie adventure). When Santa's Flying Forces get involved and are captured, Niko finds that it's up to him to rescue everyone, redeem his bad behavior, and save the day.
Is it any good?
Charming heroes, funny sidekicks, and a loving family navigating difficult transitions are all part of this warmhearted story for kids who can distinguishing cartoon violence from real jeopardy. Divorce, remarriage, and blending new families move the story forward; these concepts are presented in a simple, clear-eyed manner, with empathy for all involved. Still, the scary wolf, the often funny but dangerous army of eagles, and the heroes' numerous near-disastrous adventures may be frightening to younger kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss Little Brother, Big Trouble as a sequel -- the continuation of an earlier film's story. Would it have helped you to know who Black Wolf was and why his sister hated Niko? Why is it important for the sequel's filmmaker to tell us about what has happened before?
Belonging is very important in this movie. Besides Niko's family, what are the different communities in this story? What did Niko learn about belonging? What did Tobias discover?
Niko has to accept his parents' separation and his mom's remarriage; it affects everyone in the family. Name some other events that might impact a family (i.e., new baby, new job, moving). How have you and your family dealt with a major change?
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