Great for tween girls!
This is definitely one of the most fun movies I have ever watched. At the time I watched it tied for first place as my favorite movie with Howl's Moving Castle. It has positive messages of overcoming your differences and changing the world yourself and not just sitting around for others to fix the world. The movie seems to be set in a sort of alternate reality, around the Victorian Era. Towards the end of the movie there are some points which could be creepy to kids under eight, or even sensitive eight year olds. At one point a dog gets shot and seems to be dead. The main character is held at gunpoint and later jumps off a cliff that seems to be at least a hundred feet high, and lands in the ocean. At first the movie seems to be divided into two sides, with the Merryweather's being "good" and the De Noir's being "bad". Later it becomes clearer that this is not the case, and both families are at fault. Still, the movie really centres around the kids being better than the grown-ups, which works well, but isn't a great method. The main character, Maria is very selfless, generous, and noble-hearted, and the De Noir boy, Robin, is also fairly nice and courageous, once he listens to Maria and his head deflates a bit. The grown-ups seem to hold their grudges rather strongly, and aren't as great of role models. Sir Benjamin, Maria's uncle, breaks off his wedding when he finds out his bride-to-be, Loveday, is a De Noir. Loveday, in return runs away to the woods and hides. Also, Coeur De Noir decides to kill Maria when she runs away from being held captive at his run-down castle fortress. Later in the movie the two men seem to forgive each other, but neither seem really sincere. There is a budding romance between Maria's governess and Sir Benjamin's butler, and throughout the later part of the movie you are suspecting something more to spring up from the new relationship between Maria and Robin then what ever does. The movie is loosely based on the book, The Little White Horse, which I found not quite as enjoyable. But then again I had higher hopes for the book having already watched the movie. Fans of the book might be disappointed as many things in the plot were changed to include magic. The movie is aimed at 10-12 year old girls, but will be enjoyed by other crowds as well, though it might not appeal as much to boys as girls, there being no significant or good main character that is a boy until about three-fourths of the way into the movie.
What other families should know