Parents' Guide to

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Disney's take on Christmas classic is colorful but intense.

Movie PG 2018 99 minutes
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 47 parent reviews

age 10+

Expected better

The writing and acting wasn't that good overall. I didn't appreciate that the Sugar Plum Fairy character came off as suggestive at times in her demeanor. I get that she was evil, but really. Gone is the innocence kids movies used to have back in the day.
1 person found this helpful.
age 8+

This was the WORST, do not bother

Honestly, why would you spend millions of dollars to have a mediocre movie like this, Disney? You have ostensibly good actors like Keira Knightly and Morgan Freeman. How could you mess up the Nutcracker story like this? Disappointed in how the character of Clara was portrayed. They constant zoom ins on her made up face were unnecessary. She was made to look and act older, which brings up a slew of issues there. Also the Sugar Plum fairy (Keira Knightly’s character) made some adult comments comments, if you listen carefully. The characters and plot were under developed. I think all the $$ was spent on costumes and special effects. The best part of the movie was actually the end credits — Misty Copeland and the other dancers were wonderful. Wish we had had more dancing and less boring corporate Disney storyline.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (47):
Kids say (51):

This visually compelling adaptation should please younger holiday-movie fans, but even Misty Copeland's ballet performances may not be enough to enthrall those without kids. Which isn't to say that The Nutcracker and the Four Realms' expanded take on the classic Christmas ballet doesn't have an interesting premise. Here, Clara is no longer a passive observer but an active participant in defending and restoring the Four Realms. And there are certainly some moments of delight and wonder (Copeland dancing to Tchaikovsky's score, Clara's extravagant welcome party, the opulent sets and costumes). But there are also creepy parts -- like Mother Ginger's unsettling clowns, the teeming mice that form the giant Mouse King, and Sugar Plum's leering comments about the tin soldiers -- that feel like a departure from the movie's kid-friendly tone.

Foy is an undeniably appealing and expressive actor, and the film's young target audience will relate to her awestruck need to do what's right and what would make her mother proud. And the movie's Narnia-meets-Oz production design is colorful and evocative; you can imagine scores of elementary-age moviegoers feeling invested in Clara's adventure. But the storytelling falls short of being grand enough to replace the ballet as the definitive version of the Nutcracker. If anything, Copeland's brief appearances will likely make adult audiences long for a performance of the original ballet. (Plus, having such big stars in supporting roles makes the plot's "twists" somewhat predictable.) At least Foy's plucky Clara leads a charge and learns her worth as she defends this fantasy world. It's just that this Nutcracker isn't quite enchanting enough to become a classic.

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