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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Swan Princess: A Royal Wedding continues the franchise with a sweet tale full of adventure in an attractive setting. The small kingdom of "Cathay," a name historically used by Europeans for China, draws from ancient real-life Chinese customs to make the fictional culture feel as magical as the Swan Princess herself. Kids will get a kick out of the humor, which is used to soften scarier moments. An evil sorceress, for instance, gives herself laughable pep talks and props after each nasty deed. Among her scarier actions are when she uses her powers and laser-beam eyes to turn a young princess into an old woman on the verge of death, transform herself into a fire-breathing snake, and destroy a bridge two characters are about to run across. Another fright comes when a spider spits webs around two characters in order to trap (and presumably kill) them, but the scene is resolved quickly, and the characters are saved. Two characters who are engaged to be married share several kisses. The princesses are drawn in a way that could be seen as promoting an unrealistic body type/image.
What's the story?
Princess Odette (voiced by Nina Herzog), Prince Derek (Yuri Lowenthal), and his parents set out for the imaginary but based-on-China kingdom of Cathay to reverse a curse that bars Princess Mei Li (Stepahine Sheh) from marrying her beloved Chen (Alexander Chen). THE SWAN PRINCESS: A ROYAL WEDDING thus picks up on a thread from the previous film in the franchise and marks the 10th Swan Princess title. When they arrive, they realize something is amiss. The evil sorceress Fang, also in love with Chen, transforms herself into a lookalike Mei Li, turning the princess into an old lady instead. When Chen marries Fang, Mei Li will die. Odette and Derek, together with Mei Li's brother, realize something is amiss, but it takes them time to discover Fang's evil plot. However, time is running out. Meanwhile, Mei Li's father, the emperor, may have to call on help from his ancestors to save them all.
Is it any good?
This movie offers good-hearted fun for younger kids. The Chinese-inspired location is appealing, and fans of the franchise will enjoy this latest installment of familiar characters. The Barbie-esque depiction of the princesses and the tired royal wedding cliché could grate on some viewers' nerves, but ultimately it's the women who must save the day in The Swan Princess: A Royal Wedding, displaying courage and intelligence along the way. Good wins out over evil in the Swan Princess universe, and that's a message that should never get old.
The customs and setting of the China-inspired location offer some depth to the tale, including wall-sized murals that tell the history of the royal family's ancestors. A neat plot device has characters getting stuck inside the painting. Older viewers will also appreciate the humor in the movie. Derek's father's desperate attempts to keep his wife from making a fool of herself are cute, and the always wisecracking sidekick animals get the last laugh. "Why does she have to be called Fang -- why not just be Tooth?" the frog wonders.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the representation of aspects drawn from Chinese culture in The Swan Princess: A Royal Wedding. What interested you the most about Cathay's customs?
How do Odette and Mei Li compare with princesses in other movies you've watched? Are they positive role models? If yes, how so?
In the film, friends and family sacrifice their own safety and well-being to help each other. What's the nicest thing anyone has ever done to help you?
- On DVD or streaming: August 4, 2020
- Cast: Nina Herzog, Yuri Lowenthal, Stephanie Sheh
- Director: Richard Rich
- Studio: Sony Wonder
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Fairy Tales
- Character strengths: Courage
- Run time: 82 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: March 19, 2021
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