Parents' Guide to

The Flying Machine

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 7+

Mixed-media movie celebrates life of Polish composer Chopin.

Movie NR 2013 77 minutes
The Flying Machine Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 1 parent review

age 7+

30 quality minutes + 60 more forgettable ones

As you can read in the movie summary, there is a 30 minute animated “movie within a movie” which feels magical and tells a compelling story of a girl being separated (and ultimately reunited) with her father. I really enjoyed this little vignette, and the music by Chopin truly enhanced this experience. But as soon as the story switches to live actors, it goes completely downhill. The acting is forced and over the top, and the story-telling is disjointed (is this a story about paying attention to your children, putting down your phone, or a history of Chopin? I don’t know.) While I don’t recall seeing anything offensive, I would rather I’d had the entire 90 minutes of my life back. Plus, my 7 and 9 year old boys felt like I’d somehow cheated them out of movie night.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

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.

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