Magic Journey to Africa

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Magic Journey to Africa Movie Poster Image
Vivid, dreamlike Africa adventure is offbeat but inspired.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 49 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Magic Journey to Africa offers positive messages about friendship, imagination, nurturing one's inner dream world, following your heart, and respecting nature and other cultures. It also presents a strong message about the importance and rewards of curiosity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Adults are warm, encouraging, mentoring, and present. Children are simplistic but sweetly curious, innocent, and good-hearted.

Violence & Scariness

Very brief, minor peril with the interaction with some large, wild animals in their natural habitats, but no injury or harm. Also, the premise implies that a young child in a hospital was ill and may have died and that the adventure taking place may be a girl's imagined meeting of the child in a kind of afterlife.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Magic Journey to Africa's premise implies that a young child in the hospital was ill and may have died and that the adventure taking place may be a girl's imagined meeting of the child in a kind of afterlife. This is not explicit, though the child is said to have left the hospital to return to the land of his forefathers. What follows is an uplifting, dreamlike adventure exploring the African countryside.

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What's the story?

When 10-year-old Jana (Eva Gerretsen) sees the hungry and homeless Kaboo (Raymond Mvula) steal a cell phone, she becomes immediately intrigued about the boy's life. With her parents' encouragement and help, they track him down at a local hospital, only to be told he has gone back to Africa to visit his forefathers. Though Jana is in Spain, she takes a magical journey in her mind to see the country, and, with the help of new friend Mel, she sees the animals, landscape, and inhabitants of a country she'd only seen in books.

Is it any good?

MAGIC JOURNEY TO AFRICA has an exciting premise: Kids can experience lands only seen in books or movies by retreating to the richness of their imaginations. Here, the landscape and shots are gorgeously filmed in vivid color, and the CGI animals who talk and tell their stories, although a bit off-putting, add another layer of magical realism to this tale that involves flying around on toys that become full-size winged horses; talking to lions; and galloping along on zebras.

There's not much for plot, and the dialogue is a bit heavy-handed for kids. The chattiness is increasingly far-out, and the spiritual nature about the things hidden in dreams, talking to animals to understand their feelings, and divining with plant life to understand the universe sometimes borders on nonsensical. That aside, it's a neat movie that celebrates the real power of imagination, no matter how offbeat or silly, something a lot of children's fare could use more of. Worth being ready for: There's the implication in the outset that the kid in the beginning of the film has died, and what follows may be an exercise in communing with the deceased. However, this is handled with great subtlety, so this may or may not be something kids -- especially those who've lost loved ones -- pick up on.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about imagination. Do you ever visit places in your imagination? What's it like? How vivid is it?

  • Have you ever tried to talk to plants or animals? What happened? How else might we understand how plants and animals experience existence? How do you think they feel?

  • Is it possible to interact with people in your dreams? Have you ever had conversations with people you know or knew in dreams? What did you talk about? Did the conversations make sense? What do you think dreams are for?

Movie details

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For kids who love adventure

Themes & Topics

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