Race to Witch Mountain

 
Sci-fi remake is action packed and intense for a PG film.
  • Review Date: August 3, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 98 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

The movie is intended to entertain, not educate.

Positive messages

Amid the peril and danger, the main characters learn about trusting others.

Positive role models

A man selflessly helps kids who are in trouble. But on the other hand, U.S. government officials are depicted as mean and violent. People who believe in UFOs are made fun of but eventually validated in their belief that extraterrestrials exist.

Violence & scariness

This film is more violent than most PG-rated Disney flicks. Not only is an alien assassin trying to kill the protagonists, but the government operatives are also ready to use deadly force. The scary alien sets fire to places and continuously tries to shoot Sarah, Seth, and pretty much anyone who's in his way. No one looks dead, but obviously the alien's explosions injure people. Sarah also uses her telepathy to set cars on fire or crash them in the street. Characters engage in hand-to-hand fights. The confrontations are loud and frightening, but there's no blood or obvious death.

Sexy stuff

Two characters flirt, hold hands, and are told by a telepathic alien that they're thinking of each other.

Language

Mild: Words include "pimped" and threatening language like "you're dead," "deadly force authorized," and "we can make you disappear."

Consumerism

Product placements include Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Avalanche, Ford Mustang GT, Planet Hollywood, the movie Bullitt, Star Wars stormtroopers, and various hotels on the Las Vegas strip.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this new take on Disney's classic Escape to Witch Mountain is scary -- the destruction of the world is at stake, and the main characters are in constant peril. And, for a PG-rated film, it has more violence and intense moments than you might expect. Since the alien villain and government agents are all trying to kill or capture the extraterrestrial teens, the kids are constantly in danger and have to ward off many threats, including explosions and direct gunfire. There's also a little bit of mild flirting between two characters and several product placements. Language is mostly limited to threats like "you're dead."

What's the story?

Jack Bruno (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is a Las Vegas cabbie who picks up an unusual fare one afternoon -- teenage siblings with a huge roll of cash. Jack soon discovers that Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig) aren't just runaways with awkward social skills. They're aliens on a mission to return an ecological secret to their home planet. If they don't find their spaceship and go back, earth's population will be destroyed. Jack enlists a beautiful astrophysicist (Carla Gugino) to help the kids overcome two formidable obstacles: U.S. Homeland Security agents who want to capture and study the "illegal aliens" at a remote government base called Witch Mountain and the villainous alien Siphon, a Terminator-like assassin sent to prevent the kids from going home -- by any means necessary.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Director Andy Fickman, who hired Johnson for RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN while they filmed the family comedy The Game Plan, knows how to ramp up the action while keeping the humor a kid-friendly PG. With his bulging muscles and surprisingly acute comic chops, Johnson proves he's the Arnold Schwarzenegger of this generation, able to kick serious butt one moment and be the butt of a joke the next. Gugino (of Spy Kids and Night at the Museum fame) is always perfectly pleasant, if a bit unbelievable as a Ph.D., while Irish thespian Ciaran Hinds is adeptly menacing as a government agent, and Cheech Marin and Garry Marshall provide some comic relief.

Even the original movie's child stars -- Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards -- get more than the usual one-line cameos as a helpful sheriff and waitress, respectively. As for their contemporary counterparts, Robb is sweetly ethereal and clearly a rising star, leaving Ludwig slightly underwhelming by comparison. Kids will a kick out of the teens' telekinetic and shape-shifting abilities, and parents will appreciate the one-liners about Vegas, sci-fi conventions, fanboys, and, ultimately, the concept of teens who act like aliens.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether the amount of violence in this movie is OK for the kid audience it's being advertised to. Kids: Was it scarier than you thought it would be? Is it less scary because the main characters are aliens? Why or why not? 

  • How are Seth and Sarah different from other aliens you've seen in

  • movies and TV shows? What do they learn about humankind -- and vice

  • versa? 

  • For fans of the original Disney Witch Mountain movies, how does this remake compare?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 13, 2009
DVD release date:August 4, 2009
Cast:Alexander Ludwig, AnnaSophia Robb, Dwayne The Rock Johnson
Director:Andy Fickman
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, Space and aliens
Run time:98 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:sequences of action and violence, frightening and dangerous situations, and some thematic elements

This review of Race to Witch Mountain was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • 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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Parent of a 7, 9, and 12 year old Written bymommajoanie August 29, 2009
age 12+
 

PG Rating FRAUDULENT

Do not allow anyone under 12 years old to see this movie that SHOULD have been rated PG-13 AT LEAST for all the excess violence. A great movie for those 12 and older, lots of action and adventure - despite obvious product-placement. I have never let my children watch anything like this before age 12 - but, regretfully, did NOT check the reviews ahead of time. Shame on me for not checking (also trusted Disney, PG, kids movie...) SHAME ON YOU, DISNEY! Shame on those of you letting your young children watch this kind of crap and worse! As an educator, I see first-hand every day the effects of TOO MUCH MEDIA, TOO MUCH VIOLENCE and the OVER-SEXUALIZATION of our children - to the point that NO ONE seems to think ANYTHING IS WRONG! How disgusting...We REAP what we SOW, America!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written by9001 March 13, 2010
age 11+
 

Great movie, not for little kids. 10+

I saw this movie in the theaters, and it was great. It was pretty violent for a PG movie, though. Someone uses the word "p*mped", and two characters flirt.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old September 19, 2010
age 7+
 

A sci-fi thriller that doesn't deserve the hype.

This movie is just for the fun of it; as advertised "awesome special effects" didn't live up to it's goal, and in some scenes the explosions look plain cheesy. The main character uses unnecessary violence against scientists who don't believe that keeping the kids captive is a good idea. This movie in my opinion was horrible, not much to describe about it.
What other families should know
Too much violence

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