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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Meant to entertain rather than educate, but viewers will learn some positive messages. Kids may be inspired to seek at the original book as well as other titles by Julia Donaldson.
Don't let others, or your size, tell you that you can't achieve your dreams. There is a big world to explore. Friendship involves looking out for one another. Courage, quick thinking, and teamwork are all on display.
Positive Role Models
The snail is adventurous and curios. When they get the opportunity to follow their dreams, they take it. After the whale finds itself beached on the shore, the snail is determined to help, showing quick thinking, courage, and perseverance. The whale is kind and generous, helping fufill the snail's desire for adventure. The human characters show compassion in wanting to help the whale.
The narration is read by a female actor, while the snail is also voiced by a female actor and the whale by a male. The few school kids and adult characters that appear -- all of whom try and help the whale -- are well represented in terms of gender and race. Some positive messaging about size not being important.
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Violence & Scariness
Some fleeting moments of peril. A group of sharks circle the whale and snail, and try to bite the whale. The whale fights them off, hitting one shark with its tail, while another ends up with a boulder in its mouth. Seagulls are constantly trying to eat the snail. One seagull swoops down and catches a fish. A thunderstorm causes giant waves that knock the snail toward the bottom of the ocean. After some speedboats cause the whale to become disoriented, it lands up beached on the shore. A group of people hurriedly help the whale back into the sea before it can come to any harm.
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Products & Purchases
The film is based on a popular kids' book. Although not specifically marketed in the film, tie-in merchandise is available.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Snail and the Whale is a heartening adaptation from a book by Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo, Zog) with tons of positive messages. The snail, who is voiced by Oscar-winner Sally Hawkins, is offered the chance to realize its dreams of seeing the world, when a kindly humpback whale (Rob Brydon) lets the snail board its tail. There are occasional moments of threat as the pair's adventure includes an encounter with sharks, while the snail is constantly worried about being eaten by seagulls. The biggest moment of jeopardy comes when the whale finds itself beached on the shore. With the clock ticking, the snail is given the chance to be the hero, as it shows courage and perseverance in going to get help. These perilous situations are short-lived and allow the film's positive messages to come to the surface. As well as courage, perseverance, curiosity, and teamwork, the film celebrates friendship, and manages to do so without any of the messaging feeling forced. Beautifully animated, this is a short -- just 27 minutes -- fun-packed adventure that can be enjoyed by the whole family. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Adapted from another book by hugely popular kids' author Julia Donaldson, this 27-minute adventure is perfect family viewing. The Snail and the Whale join the likes of The Gruffalo and Stick Man in offering a beautifully told and animated short story that teaches -- or reminds, as the case maybe -- of some important life lessons. Oscar-winner Hawkins voices the snail with a sense of adventure, while Brydon is uncharacteristically understated, adding his dulcet tones to the whale who shows the snail the world. Add to that the late Diana Rigg, who provides the rhythmic narration to Donaldson's words, and beautifully rendered animation, and you know you're in very safe hands.
As has become expected from Donaldson adaptations, the film is packed with plenty of positive messages. These include following your dreams, embracing the unknown, and helping others, all of which are shown to require courage. It's to the film's credit that none of this feels force-fed, instead trusting the viewer to pick up these messages themselves. There's the occasional moment of jeopardy -- the snail and whale encounter some sharks, and later the whale ends up beached on the shore. But once again, the film confidently knows its audience and manages the stakes perfectly. The Snail and the Whale is another welcome addition to the stable of Donaldson-book adaptations.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.