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 Little Vampire is a 2017 animated feature from Holland in which a tween boy from America befriends a tween vampire while visiting Transylvania with his family. There are some brief moments of peril: The dad of the American family loses control of the car and it falls off a cliff, vampire hunters chase vampires and attempt to chop them up with propellers. Some potty humor is involved -- flying cows defecate on a helicopter -- and "sucks" is used a couple times, and not in the context of what vampires do with blood. There's some slapstick cartoon violence involving the bad guys hitting each other and getting hit and falling over. But overall, most near-scares are counterbalanced with humor. The movie is based on the children's book series by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg.
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What's the story?
In THE LITTLE VAMPIRE (aka The Little Vampire 3D), Tony Thompson (Amy Saville) is an American tween from San Diego on vacation in Transylvania with his family. Tony is obsessed with vampires and vampire stories. After the Thompsons stop for the night in an old castle, Tony gets more than he bargained for when he meets Rudolph (Rasmus Hardiker), a vampire who has just escaped his family to avoid the drudgery of celebrating his 13th birthday for the 300th time. An unlikely friendship develops between Rudy and Tony, and just in time, because Rookery (Jim Carter) and Maney, a pair of bumbling yet evil vampire hunters, want nothing more than to eradicate Rudy's family. Tony agrees to help Rudy save his family from the vampire hunters, but Rudy's family must find a way to get over their distrust of humans, especially when Tony's parents get involved.
Is it any good?
This animated movie tries to offer a new twist on the classic vampire tale but ends up as a trite gimmick with some lazy platitudes about overcoming differences. Any potential for the quirky entertainment value of all-American tween Tony Thompson and punk-goth tween vampire Rudolph forging an unlikely friendship gets lost in the predictable action. The obvious deeper messages contained in the story -- in which a vampire and human family must overcome their prejudices to save the vampire family from a bumbling pair of vampire hunters -- gets easily lost in what's perhaps the movie's most memorable (if gross) image: a flying cow defecating on the bad guys' helicopter.
The tween vampire girl is basically a copy of Wednesday Addams, and the secondary characters come off as second-rate imitations of Pixar characters with "funny" accents. What's left is an attempt to put a spin on the familiar that ends up relying too heavily on the overdone tropes of the vampire movie genre to deliver something truly original. So while this could have been a movie that the entire family would enjoy, The Little Vampire ends up being best for younger kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Little Vampire is based on a series of books. What would be the challenges in making a movie based on a popular series?
How did the movie use humor to make the vampires less scary?
How does this compare to other "monster" movies and TV shows you've seen?
- On DVD or streaming: August 28, 2018
- Cast: Rasmus Hardiker, Amy Saville, Jim Carter
- Director: Richard Claus
- Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 83 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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