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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Little Prince is based on the beloved book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, but it's not a strictly faithful retelling of the story. Instead, it focuses on a young girl who befriends the old man next door, who's actually the Aviator from the story. He tells her about how he met the Little Prince many years ago. The animated film takes plenty of liberties, but the basic message is the same as the book's, and it's an important one: Take time to enjoy life. That's an important theme for people of all ages, though The Little Prince has always been a fable that has more resonance for adults than little kids. Plus, the latter part of the movie has some surprisingly dark moments that may be a bit much for younger viewers -- for instance, when the Girl is trapped in a factory and threatened by the machinery (part of another character's plan to shut down her yearning for independence). There are references to/implications of both death and suicide. And the Girl has a complicated relationship with her mother.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE LITTLE PRINCE, a Mother (voiced by Rachel McAdams) has her daughter's life all planned out, starting with a rigorous study program to ensure she gets into the right school. The Girl (Mackenzie Foy) is so busy she barely has time to get to know the quirky old man next door (Jeff Bridges), but eventually he convinces her to take a break so he can tell some stories about his time as an Aviator -- and how he once met the titular Little Prince.
Is it any good?
The Little Prince isn't ineffective -- in fact, it's quite moving; it's just not as awe-inspiring as it could have been. And that's at least somewhat because it isn't exactly like the iconic book, though the themes are very similar. The movie is mostly about the Girl and what she learns from the Aviator, which is a shift from the book (it's more about what the Aviator learns from the Little Prince). It offers the same basic message, just told in a very different way, which may very well influence how audiences receive the film.
The parts that stick closely to the text will fee magical and otherworldly, thanks to the animation. (And, of course, the source.) But the sections that were added to frame the story -- especially the third act -- are fairly predictable (though enjoyable) and are a departure from the book's tone. The resulting juxtaposition proves somewhat unsettling: The depth of the source material is diluted by the too-straightforward (and somewhat jarring) additions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Little Prince's dark/scary scenes. What makes them scary? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?
What is the Aviator trying to teach the Girl? What do you think about the Mother's plans for the Girl?
The film uses two very different animation styles. What does this show the audience? How do the images match the various moments in the film?
If you've read the book, how is the movie similar and different? What do you think about framing the story of the Little Prince with the story of the Girl and her Mother? Does this structure change the story's meaning/impact?
- On DVD or streaming: August 5, 2016
- Cast: Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Mackenzie Foy
- Director: Mark Osborne
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Empathy, Integrity
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild thematic elements
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