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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the Hansel and Gretel-inspired Secret Magic Control Agency has nonstop action and cartoon violence, as well as some potentially scary situations and characters. As in the original Brothers Grimm tale, orphaned siblings Hansel (voiced by Nicholas Corda and Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld) and Gretel (Courtney Shaw) -- in this case, adults transformed temporarily into kids -- are taken in by an old witch in the forest who plans to put them to sleep and eat them. She gives them drugged cookies and sharpens a knife in preparation. That's just one scene, and the siblings have resources to escape thanks to Gretel's secret agent training and magical devices like a flying machine. But the two are also threatened by a variety of humans, animals, magical creatures, and animated objects. There are explosions and fires, slaps and punches, ovens and vats, falls and crash landings, electrocution, freeze guns, magical potions, and more. The siblings manage to not only escape unscathed, but also save the kingdom and be given special status by the king, learning in the process how much they love and must rely on each other. Childish taunts include "hustler," "cheat," "charlatan," "con artist," "thief," "brat," "jerk," and "liar." There's some potty humor, and a buxom female in a tight dress and red lipstick tricks the king into marrying her. She and the king kiss a couple of times.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
As a top agent with the SECRET MAGIC CONTROL AGENCY, Gretel (voiced by Courtney Shaw) is called upon by Agent Stepmother (Georgette Reilly) to save the kingdom when the king is kidnapped under mysterious circumstances. The only requirement is that she work with her estranged brother, Hansel (Nicholas Corda and Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld), a popular magician and charlatan who scams his followers out of their money. As the siblings travel through various magical realms in the kingdom, they face down threats of every kind, including an old witch who wants to eat them (as in the original fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel). They discover the king is being held by a disgruntled former palace chef who has an evil plan to bewitch the kingdom with magic cookies and lure the king into marrying her so she can be queen. Hansel and Gretel will have to get over their differences and work together to save the day.
Is it any good?
Kids will likely respond well to the attractive animated realms and heroic tale of two siblings in this film. They'll probably also get a good giggle out of some of Hansel's antics or goofy animated characters, like the mommy-loving giant dough-ball or the cupcake that poops pink frosting when it gets scared. Secret Magic Control Agency is aimed squarely at this very young audience, who also likely won't mind the at-times confusing assortment of ideas and characters thrown together here. The animated worlds in this Russian-American production are sumptuous and complex, and the action is often set to inspirational music.
As with many streaming films trying to grab viewers' attention in the first few minutes, the opening sequence is action-packed, involving a stuffed banquet that comes to life and kidnaps the king. But the film gains when it slows down a bit, allowing the characters -- especially secret agent Gretel and her wayward but gold-hearted brother Hansel -- to develop. One scene in particular, where the siblings argue then come to some realizations and a new understanding of each other and their shared history, offers a bit of depth and a nice contrast to the nonstop action. There's also a clever nod to the Brothers Grimm in the ending. It's unfortunate the creators felt the need to over-stuff their otherwise attractive package.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Secret Magic Control Agency borrows from the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, and what has changed in the story. Did you like the changes? Why or why not?
What do the siblings learn about each other and themselves in the process of working together to save the kingdom? How do they use teamwork?
Do the animated characters and realms of this film remind you of any you've seen in other movies? If so, which ones?
Have you ever heard of the traditional character of Baba Yaga? Where could you find more information about her?
- On DVD or streaming: March 25, 2021
- Cast: Nicholas Corda, Georgette Reilly, Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld
- Director: Aleksey Tsitsilin
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Brothers and Sisters, Fairy Tales
- Character strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: April 20, 2021
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