A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ruby Strangelove Young Witch will interest only the youngest viewers, but it might also confuse them. Young Ruby has just discovered her own nature as a witch and must save her mother in a complicated plot about a portal between parallel universes that has something to do with planets aligning. There's a plan among the local adults in town to sabotage Ruby and her father, though it's confusing what's motivating these once-friendly adults to turn on the Strangeloves. The disappearance of Ruby's mother when Ruby is a newborn, and her sequestering in a town guarded by adult male clowns, could prove a bit frightening to some. But the school bullies are pretty toothless and Ruby's handling of them on behalf of her "misfit" friends offers a good model for school-age children, as does the strong bond between Ruby and her dad. Some mild language includes "hell," "heck," "loser," "freak," "jerk," "loser," "sucks." A man who has sequestered Ruby's mother plans to force her to marry him and kisses her hand repeatedly.
What's the story?
RUBY STRANGELOVE YOUNG WITCH discovers she has magical powers when she is 8 years old. Soon after, her mother (Twinnie Lee Moore), who disappeared when Ruby (Seanna Pereira) was a newborn, appears to her through a magical mirror to warn her of people who wish them evil and to ask for Ruby's help rescuing her from a parallel universe. The one night when the universes will align and a portal between them will open happens to fall on the evening of Ruby's school "Battle of the Bands." Ruby's natural musical talents will be put to the test that night against another band made up of the school bullies, and she'll need to save her mother and stand up for herself and her friends. In a small town where it's unclear who she can trust, Ruby has the unconditional support of her loving father (Ed Stoppard) and her best friend Scooter (Chenuse Aitchedji).
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the portrayal of witches in Ruby Strangelove Young Witch. What kind of powers do Ruby and her mother wield? Do they fit with your idea of what a "witch" is?
What do you think of the depiction of the parallel universe where Ruby's mother is being held? Did it remind you of anyplace you've seen in other movies or shows?
Ruby and her friends deal with bullies at school. Have you ever experienced bullying? Did Ruby handle them well?
- In theaters: November 30, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: July 18, 2017
- Cast: Seanna Pereira, Ed Stoppard, Twinnie Lee Moore
- Director: Evgeny Ruman
- Studio: Bomar OOD
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: October 17, 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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