Little Red Wagon

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Little Red Wagon Movie Poster Image
Inspiring story of a boy's efforts to help homeless kids.
  • PG
  • 2013
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Through talk and through example, the power of one person to bring about positive change in the world is shown.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Zach Bonner is a young boy who does everything within his power to help homeless children, and goes to tremendous lengths to spread the word about the plight of homeless children in Florida, and throughout the rest of the United States.

Violence

While dumpster-diving with his mother, a young homeless boy falls out of a dumpster and injures his arm, resulting in blood and a traumatic wait in the ER waiting room.

Sex
Language

A teen girl calls someone a "d-bag," and later makes reference to having to wake up at the "asscrack of dawn."

Consumerism

Reference is made to companies and brands who helped Zach and his emerging charity: Lazydays RV, Build-a-Bear, and Chef Boyardee.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A woman drinks a glass of wine after coming home after losing her job, but does not act intoxicated.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Little Red Wagon is a 2013 movie inspired by the activism of a young Florida boy named Zach Bonner, who collected supplies for those who lost their homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley, and then later dedicated his time and efforts to helping homeless children and calling attention to their plight. The biggest concern for parents is the side story in which a mother and her young son lose their home and have no choice but to sleep in their car, dumpster-dive, and shoplift from a grocery store; while intended to provide a concrete example of the tragedy of homelessness, some of the scenes -- including one in which the young boy injures his arm while dumpster-diving -- could be too intense for younger viewers. Also, some of the shouted arguments between the mother and teen daughter could be difficult for some. Finally, during one scene in which Zach and his mother are in the middle of their walk to Tallahassee from Tampa to raise awareness about child homelessness, Zach vomits on the side of the road. Otherwise, this film is an inspirational story of what one person can do to try and make the world a better place, and should lead to thoughtful discussions about activism in our society.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySully February 28, 2015

One person, big difference, not for younger children

This movie seems like it should have been on Lifetime or the Hallmark channel. If it weren't based on a true story I would have turned it off. The story... Continue reading
Parent of a 3, 6, and 8 year old Written bydanamarie262 February 29, 2016

Shows how even ayoung child can help others in a significant way

For exact details, you can read the summary on the main page, but I found this movie to be very good. The story of a young boy who at the age of 7 cared enough... Continue reading

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What's the story?

In the aftermath of Hurricane Charley, a young boy named Zach Bonner is moved to help those who lost their homes from the hurricane in communities south of his Tampa home. With a little red wagon and help from his teen sister Kelley, Zach collects supplies from everyone in his neighborhood. When he and his sister collect much more than they anticipated, Zach begins to reach out to the other neighborhoods around him for help. Zach's efforts begin to garner local media attention, and Zach begins to realize that his efforts are merely the beginning. With help from his mother, he creates a charity dedicated to ease the pain and raise awareness about homeless children. With larger donations and help from bigger corporations, they collect "Zach Bags," book bags for homeless kids that are packed with toys, books, and practical items. As his charity and cause continue to grow, Zach's mother and Kelley are starting to fight more and more, as Kelley wants to have more of a personal life. Meanwhile, Zach conceives of an idea: Walk from Tampa to the state capital of Tallahassee as a way to promote awareness of the difficulties faced by homeless children. It takes some persuading, but Zach's family comes around and does their best to help him in his nearly three-hundred-mile walk, despite the physical difficulties of the journey, as well as inter-family arguments along the way.

Is it any good?

LITTLE RED WAGON is a well-done movie. It was inspired by the true story of Zach Bonner, whose Little Red Wagon charity grew from modest beginnings into a nationally recognized advocate for homeless children. The film manages to show and discuss the growth of young Zach's efforts without being preachy or heavy-handed, and also shows, through a moving side-story involving a mother and her young son who lost everything and are trying to survive by sleeping in their car and homeless shelters, the vast difficulties of homelessness as well as how it really doesn't take much for those in the middle class to lose everything they have.

While the arguments between Zach's mother and his teenage sister Kelley feel like a bit much at times, they do underscore the difficulties faced by many in balancing their desires to improve the world while having a fulfilling social and personal life. Nonetheless, for a "movie with a message," this is among the best to come out in recent years, and should inspire discussion -- and perhaps action -- amongst families about the issues they care about the most.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about activism. How is Zach Bonner's emerging activism conveyed in the movie? What causes are important to you?

  • Why do you think the side story about the mother and son who lose everything they had was included in the movie? What would have been lost had it not been in the movie?

  • How do the problems shown between Zach's mother and his teenage sister underscore universal problems of balancing the time to help those in need while taking care of one's own day-to-day financial and personal issues?

Movie details

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