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 Floating Palace is the DVD edition of a feature-length Sofia special that aired on the Disney Channel in November 2013. The movie transforms Sofia into a mermaid who must help a mermaid princess with an injured tail. There's more peril and potentially scary scenes than in the show -- particularly when Oona is kidnapped and the mermaid queen sends a storm toward Sofia's family's royal ship. But ultimately this is a sweet adventure about friendship and generosity -- plus it features a cameo from Princess Ariel!
What's the story?
SOFIA THE FIRST: THE FLOATING PALACE starts off with Sofia (Ariel Winter) and her royal family sailing on the seas on their ship, the Floating Palace, to a vacation destination called Merroway Cove. While playing on deck, Sofia spots a young mermaid who has been caught in a fishing net. Sofia helps her get untangled and discovers the mermaid, Oona (Kiernan Shipka), has an injured fin, but even more miraculously, Sofia's special amulet transforms her legs into a mermaid fin in order to help Oona. Thrilled to be a mermaid, Sofia decides to help Oona return to her underwater home. The two princesses plans are foiled, however, when sorcerer Cedric transforms into a sea creature and kidnaps princess Oona, while Sofia is stuck with Oona's mother mermaid Queen Emmaline (Jodi Benson), whose advisor thinks Sofia's family is responsible for the kidnapping.
Is it any good?
Disney knows how to put on a show, and whether or not your young kids usually watch Sofia the First, they will understand and enjoy this feature-length undersea special. Sofia is a feisty main character who little ones will relate to -- she doesn't always want to do what her family is doing, and she sometimes thinks her siblings are annoying, but she's ultimately a brave and sweet girl who never shies away from doing what's right or asking for help, even if it's hard or scary at first. Sofia's relationship with Oona is a gentle reminder that being different doesn't mean kids can't be friends.
This particular tale has a lot going on: high-stakes adventure, family drama, friendship comedy, musical numbers, and even a cameo from the Little Mermaid herself, Ariel (also Benson). Kids familiar with the show may have already seen the special when it aired on the Disney Channel, and will be ready to accompany Sofia on her mermaid journey. Older kids and tweens siblings will not be as enthralled as pre-K-to-second grade audiences, but Sofia the First makes a fun family movie night for families with younger children.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Sofia is always willing to speak out and act bravely in order to help those she loves. Is she a good role model for young kids?
How do both sets of parents try to help their princess daughters? Discuss how one set might be human and the other mermaid, but they love their daughters just the same.
What did you think of Princess Ariel popping up in the movie? Were you excited to see a crossover between the movie mermaid and the Disney Jr. special? Why might Disney want to connect the two characters?
- On DVD or streaming: April 4, 2014
- Cast: Ariel Winter, Sara Ramirez, Wayne Brady
- Director: Jamie Mitchell
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses and Fairies, Adventures, Friendship, Ocean Creatures
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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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.