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 Magic Door is a 2007 fantasy movie from the U.K. Throughout the movie, there are mild fantasy scares along the order of a young elf constantly hissing in a menacing manner, demonic growls and laughter, and eyes made to look green and demonic through special effects. There's also a scene in which the father and stepmother of the two lead children are tied to a tree and threatened to be burned alive by a witch. There's some profanity ("s--t"). Also of concern are the scenes in which the movie attempts to show the realistic arguments and problems a family faces as their two children attempt to adjust to a new stepmother, and those that show the worries and frustrations of the father and stepmother when the children go missing.
What's the story?
Young Liam is constantly getting blamed for things that go wrong around his new house; he says it's actually the fault of a troll. His father (Anthony Head) is frustrated with Liam and his sister Sally's behavior, and he attributes it to adjusting to living with a new stepmother (Patsy Kensit). Liam leads Sally to find and meet the troll, who they realize is actually a nice, if misunderstood, troll named Raglin who simply wants to get back to his home but is prevented from doing so by a Black Witch (Jenny Agutter). As Liam and Sally get into trouble as they try to help Raglin, their father and stepmother fear the worst and send the fellow villagers and police on a search for their missing children. It's up to Liam and Sally -- with the assistance of an elf -- to help Raglin get back to his realm and rescue themselves from the Black Witch's evil plans.
Is it any good?
There's a needless complexity at work in THE MAGIC DOOR as a result of trying to do too much. The movie fluctuates between the realities of a father and new stepmother and their unruly children getting into trouble and the unrealities of these two kids trying to help a kind troll get back to his realm, with the assistance of a constantly hissing young elf. The result is confusion as to what this story is really trying to be about.
The jumbled story line isn't helped by the so-so acting and subpar special effects. Had the story been more engaging, it might justify the realistic scares of parents searching for their missing kids and the unrealistic scares of demonic growling, howling, and glowing green eyes. But, unfortunately, it doesn't. The ambitions of trying to make this more than a simple fantasy story lead to a confusing movie that careens between reality and fantasy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about fantasy movies. What similarities and differences do you see between this and other fantasy movies?
How realistically do you think this movie conveys the realities of a family adjusting to a new stepmother?
How were special effects used in this movie?
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