Mandie and the Cherokee Treasure

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Mandie and the Cherokee Treasure Movie Poster Image
Mild adventure has positive themes but simplifies history.
  • G
  • 2011
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Though set in the 1800s, the movie's depiction of life during this era is oversimplified at the expense of any educational value.

Positive Messages

Illustrates the value of thinking through your decisions carefully and considering all the alternatives before acting too quickly. The movie also stresses the importance of keeping promises and forgiveness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mandie is a tenacious young woman who is loyal and courageous. Her mother is compassionate and patient. Uncle John is an upstanding man who values critical thinking. Native American and African American characters are depicted as happy servants.

Violence & Scariness

A woman fires a gun into the air, but no one is injured.

Sexy Stuff

A man kisses a woman briefly on the lips.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mandie and the Cherokee Treasure is a well-intentioned effort by a Christian studio to create a wholesome mystery-adventure for kids and teens, but at the expense of creating a rich portrait of life in the 1800s, particularly when it comes to the depictions of African Americans and Native Americans, whose struggles are completely glossed over or outright ignored. Still, it offers positive messages and warns against prejudice.

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What's the story?

Headstrong Mandie (Lexi Johnson) is finally reunited with her plucky mother (Hayley Mills) who had believed she'd died during childbirth, thanks to the schemes of a meddling grandmother. Together again, they insist on defying Mandie's uncle John (her only father figure since her father's death) on an adventure to recover a family heirloom from a poisonous gas mine. Along the way, Mandie must troubleshoot through some tricky situations to balance what's right with what's expected.

Is it any good?

Based on the Lois Gladys Leppard's The Mandie Series, MANDIE AND THE CHEROKEE TREASURE is a period piece set in the late 1800s that looks way too fresh and clean to feel authentic. The wigs are bad, the accents are worse, the acting is not particularly impressive, and everything feels a bit hokey and forced in an effort to create a quirky sendup of villains and heroes with a positive takeaway, to say nothing of the way African Americans and Native Americans are depicted in the film as happy, well-cared for, willing servants.

That said, it's a well-intentioned effort to create some wholesome family fare that shows kids trying to make good choices in a number of challenging contexts. Particular emphasis is given to weighing decisions and considering alternatives as the characters problem-solve their way out of a fix or two. Kids may enjoy the pioneering themes, Cherokee touches, adventurous calamity, and headstrong teen girl's desire to prove herself and save the day. Although the quality doesn't quite hit the mark and this will win no awards for accuracy, the film's overall focus on clear-headed thinking and anti-prejudice message may just be worth enduring an otherwise lackluster production. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the movie handles the impact of the Trail of Tears on the lives of Native Americans, or the impact of slavery on African Americans. What do you know about the Native American way of life and how it changed after many tribes were relocated in the late 19th century? How were slaves treated in the United States prior to the Civil War?

  • How is the role of women depicted in this movie? Can you think of roles women play today that are different from the ones shown in the film?

  • Visit a museum to learn more about the rich, but tragic history of Native Americans in the United States.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Themes & Topics

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