A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Meant to entertain, not educate, but may inspire kids to read the books on which the movie is based.
Strong messages about families' dependence on one another, optimism, setting clear goals and striving to achieve them, and the power of love and selflessness. Promotes the value of small treasures and finding joy in what one has rather than wants.
Positive Role Models
Four children are exemplary role models: loyal, caring, protective of one another, extraordinarily resourceful, hard-working, hopeful, and happy with what they have. Primary adult characters are kind, reliable, and unselfish. Gender roles old-fashioned and no ethnic diversity (film is adapted from a children's book published in 1924).
Violence & Scariness
Mild, gentle suspense: An adult couple chases the kids through the woods; the children slide down a slippery hillside; young Benny is startled by an owl. The kids occasionally worry, especially when Violet becomes ill.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Boxcar Children is a very gentle, uplifting story of four orphaned children who take responsibility for their lives and create a home in which they survive and flourish. The movie taps into the common childhood fantasy of independence and an instinctive ability to provide for oneself and other kids (often brothers and sisters). Mild suspense accompanies Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny as they stay hidden from an adult world they believe to be threatening (they run from adults who want to send the youngest boy to an orphanage and are fearful of an estranged grandfather whom they perceive as mean and unloving). Based on the Boxcar Children series, the first book of which was written in 1924 by first-grade teacher Gertrude Chandler Warner, it's an old-fashioned story that promotes clear values of loyalty, resourcefulness, and love. The hopeful resolution will satisfy and inspire. More than a hundred books followed the iconic original, most devoted to the Boxcar kids as mystery solvers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Visually beautiful, well-acted, and with a classic story well told, this is a satisfying, moving film. Considerably slower and more deliberate than most 21st-century children's fare,The Boxcar Children takes hold of and carries the viewer into the lovely world of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. In that world of abundance and beauty, people are generally kind. It's an idealized, heartwarming tale that looks at kids who never argue, work together without complaint, and find joy in even life's smallest treasures. Good deeds are rewarded; endings are happy. Highly recommended for families who will enjoy sharing that special world, if only for the time it takes to watch it.
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.