A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The entire movie, but particularly the second half, focuses on the life of Polish composer Frederic Chopin, whose "Etudes" Lang Lang plays and whose milestones are visited and celebrated by the kids in the story. The siblings (and later their mom) in the "flying machine" visit various places of significance to Chopin, while two characters reveal biographical trivia about his personality and idiosyncrasies (he had his hair professionally styled daily, loved high fashion, etc.).
Aside from learning about the life of the celebrated composer Chopin, the message for families is firmly directed at workaholic parents. The take-away is that parents shouldn't let work distract them from their children, the way that Georgie did in the story.
Positive Role Models
Georgie's kids love their mother and want her to pay more attention to them. They don't care about her business dealings; they just want her to experience the music with them. Georgie experiences a change of heart about her attitude toward work-life balance after going on the magical adventure to find her children.
Violence & Scariness
Very young kids might be frightened by the separation between the animated daughter and her beloved father. "The Magic Piano" is a bit melancholy but has a happy ending.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Flying Machine is a movie commissioned to celebrate the life of Polish composer Frederic Chopin through a story that features his music and biographical trivia. The content is both educational and fine for the entire family, but there's a 30-minute animated movie-within-a-movie that contains no dialogue (though it does have separation between a girl and her father), so it might be a better fit for kids who can handle the wordless part of the story. Kids (and parents!) will not only learn a good bit about Chopin's life but also be reminded of the importance of work-life balance. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
There's a fairly considerable discrepancy in quality between the live-action framing story and the melancholy but beautiful animated short that's featured at the beginning of the movie. "The Magic Piano" is the wordless tale of a father who loses his home and is forced to install his young daughter with her little cousin, a boy who likes to dress like a vampire. After discovering a piano in an alley, the two cousins are off on their own fantastic journey, as the father longs to be reunited with his daughter. The touching story is beautifully accompanied by Chopin's music and ends memorably.
But once the story switches back to live action, it loses depth. Graham, who was once so charming an actress, overacts, while Lang Lang, her virtuoso sidekick as they follow the kids around Europe (in the air, naturally), strikes a series of exaggerated expressions. Jane narrates details about Chopin, who is after all the point of the movie, but viewers may wish that the entire film had been stop-action animated. Ultimately "The Magic Piano" is worth four stars and the mediocre live-action parts two -- so, as an average, this is a three-star film of particular value to budding pianists and animation fans.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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