The Nutcracker Sweet

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The  Nutcracker Sweet Movie Poster Image
Quirky animated version of classic; some jeopardy, scares.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 80 minutes

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Introduction to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. 

Positive Messages

Good triumphs over evil. Values of courage and resourcefulness. Promotes brother-sister cooperation and caring: "Siblings are a gift from above; treat them with kindness and love."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Squabbling big sister and little brother learn lessons about protecting and valuing each other, yet still have playful rivalry. They work as a team to save an entire toy kingdom. Parents are loving and responsible.

Violence & Scariness

Lots of cartoon action and some scary images. Multiheaded, fierce Mouse King bares his teeth, growls, and menaces other toys; he leads a massive mouse troop in battle, wielding swords. Toy soldiers fight back with catapults and arrows. Characters fall from heights, are launched as weapons by ferocious trees, captured and caged, caught and rolled in a giant snowball, chased, and thrown down a hillside. Comic fighting with food, snowballs, pinecones.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Nutcracker Sweet is an animated film from Peru that has been revoiced for English-speaking audiences. Tchaikovsky's familiar music is heard at intervals throughout, but the story is based on E.T.A. Hoffman's 1816 novella "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King," not on the tale told in the holiday ballet. This story focuses on a sister-brother duo and their conflict and underlying love as they embark on an adventure that does include the traditional Nutcracker characters, including toy soldiers and mice. Cartoon violence is a major element in the film. Some of the action is strictly for laughs with free falls, tumbles, and comic villains. Other battles are meant to be suspenseful and dramatic, with a very scary Mouse King who threatens destruction. Though the popular ballet works for even very young audiences, this film's tone and peril make it better for kids who are clear about real versus pretend violence.

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What's the story?

THE NUTCRACKER SWEET tells the tale of Marie and Fritz, two children who receive a special nutcracker from their godfather on Christmas Eve. Marie soon realizes that the nutcracker is magic: It comes alive before her very eyes, sending her and her little brother on an exciting adventure in the Kingdom of Marzipan and the Christmas Tree Forest. There, Marie and Fritz, after magically turning into toys themselves, become key players in an ongoing battle between the evil, multiheaded Mouse King, and the Nutcracker Prince, who must defeat him. Intercut with the ongoing tale, a wise owl that mans the children's household cuckoo clock narrates a backstory filled with princesses, evil curses, magic potions, and dashing heroes.

Is it any good?

Original animation, Tchaikovsky's classic score, and clever comic moments overcome an often-confusing story. Though their efforts were earnest in choosing to adapt the 1816 version of the tale, the filmmakers simply could not manage the challenges that the complex source material set before them. The story moves from the children's household to a brief narration (which uses alternate animation and then completely disappears) to a magic door and finally to a land of sweet wonder -- giant gumdrops, eerie trees, comic mice, evil mice, cookies, and swashbuckling battles. Amid the comic jeopardy (for example, a little boy careening on a giant snowball and a mouse humorously choking on a small pinecone), there are enough scares and scary images (for example, the menacing face and tone of the Mouse King) to make this best for kids who are fully comfortable with cartoon violence.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the central message of this film: the complexity of sibling relationships. Did the relationship between Marie and Fritz seem real? What did they learn about the truth of their mom's advice? In spite of differences and disagreements, do you always "have your sibling's back"?

  • Think about the two kinds of jeopardy in this movie: comic and serious. Did the filmmakers succeed in making you laugh at some of the danger and providing suspense at other times? Was it an entertaining combination?

  • This film was made in Peru, then revoiced for English-speaking audiences. Which characteristics, if any, make the movie feel or look different from those made in the U.S.?

  • How does this version of the Nutcracker tale differ from other ones you've seen? Which is your favorite?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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