A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism is a family comedy/adventure based on author Georgia Byng's children's books, which are most popular in the United Kingdom. The story focuses on an orphan who stumbles on a magic book granting her the powers of hypnotism; there's some slapstick violence, as well as baddies who have a gun, characters who get injured from trips and falls, and some bullying among the orphans. Language includes some mild British curses ("blooming," "bleeding") and "hell," and an adult drinks sherry to unwind.
What's the story?
MOLLY MOON AND THE INCREDIBLE BOOK OF HYPNOTISM is based on British author Georgia Byng's children's book about a plucky orphan who's trying to survive her time in dilapidated old orphanage. Molly (Raffey Cassidy) lives in Hardwick House, a stereotypically cold, hard place to live, with dictatorial director Miss Adderstone (Leslie Manville), terrible food, and a businesslike motto: "Chin Up - Work Hard - Be Useful." Molly and her best friend, Rocky (Jadon Carnelly Morris), fend off bullies and hang out with younger kids who look up to them. But when Molly discovers a special book at the library that endows her with the ability to hypnotize anyone, she becomes so obsessed with using it that she lets Rocky down. After he's unexpectedly adopted and taken to London, Molly uses her new powers to run away to the big city. Unfortunately for Molly, a young bank robber (Dominic Monaghan) knows she has the book and will do anything to get it back from her.
Is it any good?
Despite its Harry Potter-esque title, magical book plot, and English orphanage setting, this adaptation isn't nearly as enchanting as the title suggests. Cassidy, who was wonderful in Tomorrowland, is certainly a capable young actress, but Molly Moon has one too many stereotypical elements to work together. The plot sputters and starts, shifting from an orphanage-based tale to a fish-out-of-water-in-the-heart-of-London adventure midway through. And once Molly starts using her powers selfishly instead of to help her fellow orphans, the story gets less interesting. She eventually hypnotizes her way to the starring role in a variety show, even though anyone not hypnotized in the audience knows she can't sing, dance, or act. In essence, she becomes a brat, and with that transformation, the audience basically stops caring about her.
Although the movie is likely to entertain kids who enjoy their villains obvious and their jokes scatological (there's a scene in which the villain is waist deep in sewage), Molly Moon isn't going to hold the attention of older tweens used to a certain level of sophistication in their live-action family movies. And while adults may get a kick out of seeing a blast from the past, Joan Collins, appear as the villain's criminal mastermind of a mother, the novelty is short-lived.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of orphan stories. Who are some of your favorite orphan heroes? Why is it so easy to root for an orphaned character?
Now that you've seen this adaptation, are you interested in reading the books about Molly Moon? Those familiar with the books -- is it a good interpretation of the story?
How do you perceive the violence in the movie? Is slapstick/physical comedy easier to watch than more realistic violence? Why? What affects the impact?
Molly runs away from the orphanage to find/help her friend. What might the consequences of that choice be in real life?
- In theaters: August 14, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: October 6, 2015
- Cast: Dominic Monaghan, Raffey Cassidy, Emily Watson
- Director: Christopher N. Rowley
- Studio: ARC Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements and brief language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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