Although the movie has mixed together all the correct ingredients and followed the usual recipe for its genre, the final dish just doesn't quite work. Something is off with Ruby Strangelove Young Witch, and while the youngest audiences might not notice, anyone older than the 8-old-year titular witch likely will. The story is ostensibly set in small-town America -- maybe the South, considering the sheriff's thick drawl. But the town looks like a movie set (the film was shot partly in Bulgaria), while detectable accents from the international cast also muddy the location. Meanwhile, the kingdom where the mother is being held against her will, a candy-colored parallel world filled with adult clowns and oddly-shaped furniture, looks like a children's TV show set and is neither funny nor creepy, it's just bizarre.
Pereira does her best as the young witch, and she appears to have a lovely singing voice, but her face doesn't always convey the right emotions for the scene (fault the director for that). As Ruby's mother, Moore is burdened with unnaturally stiff lines like "You can force me to smile, but you can never make me happy." Stoppard, playing Ruby's father, is credible in his role and helps keep the film afloat, and fans of veteran actor Stephen Rea might be curious to see his limited turn here as the bad guy. Even if they don't fully grasp the plan to rescue Ruby's mom, the youngest viewers may still appreciate Ruby's bravery, her spunky songs, the way she stands up to bullies, and the sweet relationship she has with her dad.