A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie is intended to entertain rather than educate, but kids may be inspired to seek out the original book.
It's never too late to change your ways. Greed can lead to your downfall. Be careful how you treat people.
Positive Role Models
The Highway Rat is a greedy thief who steals food from the other animals. He often takes things just for the sake of it. But eventually he changes for the good. The other animals are scared of the rat, apart from the duck who hatches a plan to teach the rat a lesson.
The characters are a group of animals of different species with no human characters appearing. One of the characters is voiced by a woman of color.
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Violence & Scariness
A character wields a sword around as they steal food from others. In one scene, they accidentally stab themselves in the foot, but there's no blood or serious injury and it's purely played for comic effect. They also hit their horse with the sword. A character threatens to eat another before becoming trapped down a cave after falling off a ledge.
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Products & Purchases
Based on a book, tie-in merchandise is available. But none is promoted within the film.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Highway Rat is an animated adventure based on a book by Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo and Zog. It's about a greedy rat (voiced by David Tennant) who steals food from the other animals. The film is a fable with the rat eventually learning the error of his ways -- the lesson being that it's never too late to change who you are. The rat carries a sword that he uses to force the other animals -- voiced by the likes of Tom Hollander and Frances de la Tour -- to hand over their food. He also accidentally stabs himself in the foot. However, none of these encounters leads to any serious injury. The rat does find himself trapped in a cave at one point, but this is all part of his journey of redemption and he's never in any serious peril. A duck (Nina Sosanya) shows intelligence and courage in standing up to the rat and teaching him a lesson. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Another adaptation from the Julia Donaldson stable of preschool books, this cartoon adventure fails to capture the magic of the likes of The Gruffalo and The Snail and the Whale. The animation looks great and once again the appeal of Donaldson's stories pulls in an array of voice talent including Tennant, Rob Brydon, and Tom Hollander. But whereas Donaldson's other tales captured the imagination with clever plot twists, here the rat's predictable journey to redemption is pedestrian and lacks any cutting edge, much like the rat's pointy sword.
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.