Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
MirrorMask Movie Poster Image
Dense, dreamlike fantasy isn't for every kid.
  • PG
  • 2005
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Characters are rarely entirely good or evil (not even the tentacled Queen of Darkness), which is a refreshing change from the one-sided morality in a lot of movies -- but a little odd when the heroine is betrayed by a character she thought was her friend, only to have him come crawling back a few scenes later. The heroine is a strong female lead who ultimately makes the right, responsible choices, though there's tacit approval of her being a graffiti artist.


A few times a creeping darkness turns humans (or humanlike creatures) into statue-like figures who can shatter. But all of the scariness/creepiness is based in fantasy and isn't "real" by a long shot.


A brief scene of the heroine's alter ego cuddling with a boy (the heroine strongly disapproves).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Nothing overt, though the movie does have an overall "trippy," Alice-in-Wonderland-like ambience, and a key clue is the phrase "get higher" (wink wink, nudge nudge).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although there's some potentially scary creature imagery in this fantastical plunge into a post-modern Wonderland, it's more weird and playfully grotesque than ugly or horrific. A menacing queen who sprouts black tentacles (through her mouth at one point) is the worst of it. Some young viewers may just be more confused about the otherworldly events and warped logic than scared or otherwise upset.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPixarYesDoraNo L. August 7, 2018
Parent of a 17-year-old Written bylove2 October 8, 2009


it was so BORING i feel ASLEEP!!!!!!!!!!!
Kid, 10 years old June 29, 2018


I hated this. It was so scary. DO NOT WATCH!!!!!
Teen, 15 years old Written byarthur16morgana January 12, 2011

kinda creepy

good movie but it just kinda creeps me out a bit.

What's the story?

Produced by the Jim Henson Company and penned by cult sci-fi writer Neil Gaiman, MirrorMask is a sometimes-bewildering takeoff on Alice in Wonderland, with a saucier heroine. Helena (Stephanie Leonidas), a teen juggler in her parents' small circus, tires of the big top and angrily wishes she had a "real life." After her mother falls ill, Helena finds herself in a carnival-like dream-world, populated by masked people and other weird creatures. She's been pulled into a parallel dimension, linked to ours through her own surreal sketches. In this other world, the balance between light and darkness has been disrupted by a missing princess -- for whom Helena is mistaken. The Queen of Light is in a coma, and the Queen of Darkness is destroying everything with her wrath. The only hope of restoring this bizarre place to "normality" is the missing MirrorMask.

Is it any good?

The film's diffuse dialogue brims with curious allusions to both classic mythology and newfangled Gaiman-esque fantasy stuff, puns and metaphors sprung to life. Every so often, the Jim Henson Company partners up with some outside talent to produce a non-traditional "Muppet" movie. These ventures are usually creature-heavy fantasies that swap Kermit and Fozzie for high imagination, cool designs, memorable visuals ... and mixed reception by the public. MIRRORMASK mixes avant-garde, computer graphic "puppets" with the writing skills of Neil Gaiman, whose works typically feature eccentric alternate worlds and mystic beings.

Viewers will be forgiven if they're a bit baffled about the whys and hows of the story -- it's easy to get a bit lost amid the dialogue. You have to be pretty quick on the uptake to figure out what the "future fruit" is, among other things. For parents and children who love fantasy and have both patience and a sense of adventure, it's fun to explore this fractured fairyland. But when the dark queen declares "Enough of this nonsense!" -- less-invested viewers might be inclined to agree.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages about growing up and acceptance. Do kids "get" those themes when they watch? How is the "anti-Helena" different from the real Helena? Parents, the film is full of literary and mythological allusions (like the Riddle of the Sphinx) -- see how many your kids can identify. Being familiar with that type of subtext may also help them appreciate the complex paradoxes and dense oddities in the somewhat similar Lewis Carroll stories Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

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