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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Viewers will become loosely familiar with plot elements and themes from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Love shouldn't be based just on looks, but on personal connection, friendship, and mutual attraction. The story also encourages people not to assume anything based on someone's size or beauty.
Positive Role Models
Marianne is a protective big sister who wants Dawn to be independent and not so boy-crazy. Instead of pining away for her cheating ex-fiance, Marianne concentrates on being a better princess -- one who doesn't need a prince just because he's hunky and good with a sword. Sunny loves Dawn and bravely risks his life to save her -- even though he misguidedly wanted to make her love him with love potion.
Violence & Scariness
Mostly grabbing, pushing, and shoving, along with a kidnapping/hostage taking. The Bog King and his cronies battle the fairy army, occasionally with swords. The fairy army brings down the Bog King's kingdom. The Sugar Plum fairy is imprisoned for most of the movie.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several long kisses: The first involves a groom cheating on his bride-to-be on their wedding day; she catches him kissing another fairy in a kiss/embrace. Two other sets of couples kiss; in one case, the female fairy caresses the male fairy's back. When the love potion is unleashed, a lizard repeatedly licks Sonny.
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"Son of a ..." (the character doesn't complete the exclamation).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A love potion leaves those under the influence believing they're in love with the person they lay their eyes on after being exposed to it.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Strange Magic is an animated musical loosely based on Shakepseare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Like a Baz Luhrmann film, the movie -- which George Lucas co-wrote and executive produced -- uses a mix of classic and contemporary pop and rock songs to further the plot. The fairy-themed romance/adventure features more kissing than the typical animated tale (including one male fairy kissing someone other than his bride-to-be on their wedding day), and the violence includes hand-to-hand combat, dueling, sword play, and a kidnapping/hostage situation. Themes center on the idea that love should be based on more than looks, and you shouldn't assume anything based on someone's size or beauty. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Strange Magic doesn't deliver on any level -- as a romance, as a musical, or as a fairy adventure. Some of the Glee-style mash-ups seem like they'd work (Elvis' "Can't Help Falling in Love" and Beyonce's "Crazy in Love"), but they don't, and others are just head-scratchingly bad ("C'mon Marianne" and "Stronger"). The filmmakers deserve kudos for attempting to expose kids to classic songs they're unfamiliar with in addition to Top 40 fare they've probably heard again and again, but the music feels forced into scenes rather than being seamlessly incorporated.
Despite -- or perhaps because of -- George Lucas' involvement, Strange Magic is just too much, trying too hard but underperforming in the end. Some of the characterizations are cringe-worthy (the Bog King's mom -- played by Maya Rudolph -- feels like Fran Drescher-meets-Mrs. Costanza) and the action unexciting. The admittedly uplifting message (love is more than skin deep) is sweet, but Strange Magic is a bizarre story that's unlikely to find a place in your kids' heart.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.