A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sofia the First: The Enchanted Feast is a compilation DVD that includes five episodes previously aired on the Disney series Sofia the First. Sofia, a little girl new to "princess-hood" following the marriage of her mother to King Roland II, lives in Enchancia's castle with a newly constituted family, including twin stepsister Princess Amber and stepbrother Prince James. Sofia has brought an unflagging spirit, great resourcefulness, and a loving heart to the household. While she learns to be a princess, those in her presence continually learn from her. Most of these episodes are about problem-solving and developing worthy values -- a not-so-scary villain appears in only the title episode, and action is limited to rare mild suspense (for example, Sofia and an aunt are momentarily lost in a meadow; the bad fairy traps the family in the dining hall using flowers and vines). Still, this is the story of a kingdom, and Sofia is a Disney princess, after all. The family members are royals; servants abound; luxury surrounds them; and all but one of these episodes involves planning a major party or an event. Sofia is a burgeoning new Disney brand, and there are tie-ins in some episodes to Disney's other popular princess characters.
What's the story?
In the title story in SOFIA THE FIRST: THE ENCHANTED FEAST, Sofia must use her wits to outsmart a bad fairy trying to steal the magic amulet that gives the little princess the power to talk to animals. Episode 2, "The Buttercups," finds Sofia on a nature trek through the forest with her old village "Buttercup" troop; the girls welcome new members and are challenged to earn treasured badges. In episode 3, "Tea for Too Many," Princess Amber wants to help Sofia host the biggest, splashiest tea party ever, but Sofia has other ideas; she just has to learn to stand up for herself. In episode 4, "Great Aunt-Venture," Aunt Tillie comes to visit and takes Sofia on a quest for the best apples in the world, but neither she nor Sofia expect encounters with a roaring giant and a wild, woolly womby. Finally, in episode 5, "Two Princesses & a Baby," magic plays an important role when Sofia helps Amber learn a lot about being a twin and sharing her birthday.
Is it any good?
This is definitely a cut above usual Disney Channel fare. The creators and filmmakers stay away from standard fairy tale tropes such as evil stepparents and cackling, wicked witches. The feisty, confident Sofia and her family are portrayed as basically good people who continue to grow and mature as they travel through their fairy-tale-with-a-modern-twist adventures. Each episode has an original song that reinforces the thematic material -- and, again, the music is "a cut above." Bright, inventive featured characters, solid messages, engaging stories, and a very lovable young heroine make this a highly recommended DVD for kids, from the youngest through those in early elementary grades. As always, there's a caution that tie-ins will be on sale everywhere; Sofia the First promises to have a very marketable shelf life for the folks at Disney.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the stepfamily that lives in the castle. How are the stepparents and stepsiblings different from the "steps" in other Disney stories such as Cinderella and Snow White? Do you think the changes are for the better?
While Sofia is learning to be a princess, what important lessons are Amber and James learning from her?
In "Tea for Too Many," how did Sofia show Amber and the princesses from the other kingdoms that "bigger isn't always better"?
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