Dense, dreamlike fantasy isn't for every kid.
  • Review Date: November 28, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 101 minutes

What parents need to know

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).

Not applicable
Not applicable
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).

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.

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?


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 -- they can get a bit lost amid the dialogue, which brims with curious allusions to both classic mythology and newfangled Gaiman-esque fantasy stuff, puns and metaphors sprung to life. 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.

Families can talk 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.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 28, 2005
DVD release date:February 14, 2007
Cast:Gina McKee, Jason Barry, Stephanie Leonidas
Director:Dave McKean
Studio:Sony Pictures
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some mild thematic elements and scary images.

This review of MirrorMask was written by

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 10 years old March 13, 2010
age 10+
The movie is really a great one for kids ten and up, but under ten kids shouldnt watch it. It would be too scary for the younger kids. there is some cool stuff in it though, too. It is good for kids ten and up because It has a fairytale like feel to it. Like how Helena can look through windows and see her room in the real world. Its also good for the older ones because they will understand it better.They would understand the connection between the real world and the world she drew. It has a black magic that can turn people to stone that can crumble them, and that is why its scary for young kids. The only problem i have with role models is the fact that Valentine betrayed Helena when she thought he was her friend. Other than scariness and one bad role model, its a great movie for kids over ten. :)
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Kid, 8 years old August 9, 2009
age 7+

older kids

its too creepy for kids
Teen, 15 years old Written byarthur16morgana January 12, 2011
age 10+

kinda creepy

good movie but it just kinda creeps me out a bit.
What other families should know
Great messages


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