A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Journey Home is a visually stunning family adventure film starring Real Steel's Dakota Goyo that takes place in the Canadian Arctic. There are some dark themes about the realities of living in a harsh environment with dangerous wildlife, including conversations about having to shoot polar bears that come too close to civilization and people who fall through the ice while exploring. Many characters carry rifles for protection, and one animal that was killed by hunters is shown. The main character also has to confront the death of his father and the fact that adults, including his parents, sometimes lie. Profanity incudes "bulls--t," "ass," and "frigging." But there also are wonderful messages about protecting the environment and the culture of Native populations and the importance of developing independence and confidence as you age into adulthood.
What's the story?
When Luke (Dakota Goyo) finds a polar bear cub that has been separated from his mother, he's determined to reunite the pair, even if the journey is dangerous. When Luke's family discovers he's missing, they have no one else to turn to but Muktuk (Goran Visnjic), an experienced tracker who may have been responsible for the death of Luke's father. But when Muktuk rescues Luke after he falls into melting ice, the pair find themselves stuck in a dangerous storm, alone on the ice. Will they be able to survive the dangerous journey to save the polar bear cub? And will Luke ever discover the truth about his father's death?
Is it any good?
Although it's a visually stunning homage to the beauty and splendor of the Canadian Arctic, this adventure film falls a bit flat on plot development and dialogue. Kids with short attention spans will appreciate the quick jump into the perilous journey across the ice, but older kids and adults may want a little more character development and less awkward lessons on the Arctic wildlife. But animal and nature lovers will enjoy the playful romping of the polar bear cub and the incredible shots of narwhals, seals, and more.
Parents no doubt will appreciate the overarching emphasis on protecting native wildlife and cultures and the responsibility we all have to protect the defenseless, even if it is a bit heavy-handed. They'll also appreciate the more nuanced messages about the give and take of parents learning to allow kids to become their own people, as well as that of kids learning that parents are complex adults.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the treatment of wildlife in the film. Do you think it's necessary to protect people from wildlife? Or should people respect the native habitat of wildlife, even if it endangers people?
Why do you think people would choose to live in a dangerous place such as the Canadian Arctic? Would you want to live there?
What do you know about the Inuit people and their culture? Why is it important to know about and protect the culture of Native peoples?