A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Question authority, do the right thing, and follow your heart. "A little trauma can inspire greatness." On the other hand, characters of faith are pitted against a villainous doctor, which sends the message that science is dubious.
Positive Role Models
Marie-Josephe is a humble, independent-minded, smart, and compassionate young woman with great integrity and courage. A cardinal relinquishes his own power rather than participate in an act he believes is immoral and wrong. Pere La Chaise gently tries to steer the monarch in a more ethical direction. King Louis XIV is clearly a narcissist, but the movie suggests that this comes from a place of wanting to protect his kingdom, which, while not exactly OK, holds purpose for him.
While main characters are all White (reflecting royal life in 1600s/1700s France), Magali is a Black lady-in-waiting who becomes a best friend to the princess and is portrayed positively. There's one reference to the fact she was likely enslaved at one time. The mermaid is portrayed by Chinese actress Bingbing Fan. Marie-Josephe is smart, humble, and musically talented; when she's suddenly faced with the idea that she could have everything if she's willing to compromise her beliefs, she refuses to do so.
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Violence & Scariness
Story is about a scheme to kill a mythological creature, with references to cutting her up to remove an organ. Gunshots, a couple of which land but aren't fatal. Physical fights with punches. Significant falls, one of which is intentional and with the understanding that it could be fatal.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing. Plot involves a blooming romance that's at odds with an arranged marriage. King is a womanizer, acknowledged in morning confessions with references to "sharing a bed."
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Products & Purchases
The story takes place at the Palace of Versailles, and the lifestyle and costumes are lavish, but ultimately the point is made that the luxe life isn't a superior life -- perhaps even the opposite.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The King's Daughter is a romantic adventure-fantasy set in the real-life court of France's King Louis XIV (Pierce Brosnan) and based on the 1997 Nebula Award-winning novel The Moon and the Sun. Title character Marie-Josephe (Kaya Scodelario) is a great role model: She's a smart independent thinker who demonstrates humility, integrity, and the courage to stand up for her convictions. This isn't a religious film, but, as was true for the setting, many characters are devoted Catholics and speak often about God. However, these characters of faith are pitted against a villainous medical doctor, which results in the implication that science is dubious. The film opens and closes as if it's a storybook (narrated by Julie Andrews), which sets the stage that it's all a fairy tale, which helps lessen the impact of the violence, including gunshots. But discussion of killing and surgically removing a mermaid's heart may be upsetting, although nothing of the sort is ever shown. The king's womanizing is depicted through confessions that he "shared a bed," and, as this is a romance, there are also a couple of kisses. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Mermaids, swordfights, and a "surprise, you're a princess!" story are nectar to certain kids. And this historical fantasy adventure makes everything all the more enticing with gorgeous production design, costumes, and cinematography. While keeping things tween-friendly, the script cleverly nods at what those familiar with the Sun King know about the monarch and his reign, including his narcissism, his womanizing, his trail of illegitimate children, and even a scandal involving a quest for youth. Kids may be inspired to hit the books/Google to find out more, but just know that Louis was a complicated guy, and not all of the stories out there about him are as kid-safe as this film.
Director Sean McNamara is an ace at turning true stories about teens overcoming adversity into films lauded for being both entertaining and appropriate for families (Soul Surfer, Spare Parts, The Miracle Season). Here, he takes a fun tweak on creating a period fairy tale while still using real-life elements. Part of that is the inclusion of merpeople, which was accepted as a very real possibility in the 1600s. That said, The King's Daughter was made in the 2000s, so the fact that it embraces a mythological creature as truth and leans into the skepticism of procedures during the medical Renaissance makes it feel like it might be trying to make a statement about modern-day science. While the character of Dr. Labarthe (Pablo Schreiber) is most definitely drawing the wrong conclusions, characters repeatedly make comments around the idea that science, especially in regards to medicine, can't be trusted. The King's Daughter was completed in 2015, seemingly delayed time and time again for reasons out of the production's control. These moments stand out unpleasantly in an otherwise magical adventure.
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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.