Parents' Guide to

The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island

By Renee Longstreet, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 6+

Sequel has simple story, leisurely pace, and mild action.

Movie NR 2018 82 minutes
The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 5+

Based on 1 parent review

age 5+

A well made, gentle movie suitable for a range of ages.

Our family loved this movie. The word that comes to mind is "gentle." Scenes that could otherwise be suspenseful for sensitive children (gathering storm clouds, children by themselves in a barn at night, etc) are kept calm by a gentle piano music score that continues throughout. It's lovely and well done. (A little reminiscent of Studio Ghibli scores.) The animation is quite beautiful, as well - simple, but thoughtful and visually appealing. There is a scene of real life danger involving the children and the tide coming into a cave, but the way the older siblings help the younger ones makes the scene bearable (again, to sensitive children; probably most kids wouldn't find it more than "adventurous" in the first place. It might be advisable to watch along with sensitive young ones just in case). There is also a human skeleton the children partially unbury in the cave, but again, the way the characters and music remain calm and discuss it rationally help the scene unfold without the scariness it could have. Again, you know what may be problematic for your own child. Mine are pretty sensitive but did okay with this. There was a mention somewhere that said the movie had no ethnic diversity. That's almost true, but there was one recurring character who was clearly Native American, and was portrayed respectfully and in a positive light. (My kids are a tiny bit Native American and the character reminded me of their grandfather, in the best ways.) Positive aspects: the siblings do not fight. The older ones really care for the younger ones and model responsible's refreshing. The children are also respectful toward the adults and other characters. It's maybe worth noting that the story is set in an earlier time when kids could be given more freedom/responsibility (a good point for family discussion). The children are quite capable of independence from the adult characters, but they don't abuse the privilege. The only thing I could see as a "negative" (but wasn't, for my family) is that if kids are used to typical entertainment fare they might find the pacing slow...I think it's done intentionally, though, so for a family looking for a calm, enjoyable family movie with an uncomplicated (but still intriguing enough for kids!) plot, it's really ideal. Our kids' ages range from 5-10 and they all LOVE both Boxcar Children movies because the main characters cover a range of ages, so each child can relate to at least one character. I personally just like watching a movie with my kids that has beautiful (animated) scenery, kid characters that aren't bratty and actually love each other, and adult characters who act like (mature) adults. It's refreshing. We own both movies, and if they make more of them we'll buy those, too.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (1):

The animation is adequate at best and the pace is slow, but the Alden children are engaging and resourceful role models in this adaptation of the 1949 book and sequel to the 2014 movie. Martin Sheen, J.K. Simmons, and Dane DeHaan add some marquee value as voices for the adult characters, but it's the kids who are front and center in The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island. Given the fact that there are more than 150 books in The Boxcar Children series, this venture may be just the beginning of another "endless" franchise. It would be best if the filmmakers used their 2014 movie as a template for future movies, rather than this slower, more tepid effort.

Movie Details

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