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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Swan Princess: Royally Undercover is another Swan Princess movie, the seventh in the series. Princess Odette and Prince Derek, the original Swan Princess and Prince, are adults now. Their fairy-tale heroics have been handed down to their adopted daughter, Princess Alise, and her friend Lucas, aided by the long-standing Lord Rogers (inventor extraordinaire) and an assortment of adorable human-like animals (a frog, a puffin, a turtle). As with its more recent predecessors, this fairy tale is filled with cartoon action that finds the principal characters in danger. Little Princess Alise is called upon to be a dashing, brave young adventurer, whose efforts, along with those of her compatriots, save kingdoms and all the royalty who rule there. They must fend off nefarious villains who stop at nothing for a greedy cause (one baddie has a hook arm, another a scarred face). They are chased, threatened, and held captive, escaping at the very last moment in several sequences. There are no serious injuries or deaths. This story includes a profusion of high-tech gadgets, atypical in most "once upon a time" exploits, which add to the fun. With positive messages about helping those who have been displaced, working together for a common goal, and the importance of family, as well as a clear story and always-inventive characters, this is a solid entry in the Swan Princess franchise. Still, it's not for little ones who don't understand imaginary vs. real violence.
What's the story?
After a shadowy figure destroys the dam protecting their village, Princess Odette (voiced by Elle Deets) and Prince Derek (Yuri Lowenthal) and all their citizens seek sanctuary in Derek's family kingdom in THE SWAN PRINCESS: ROYALLY UNDERCOVER. Derek's mother, Queen Uberta (Jennifer Miller), along with her royal aide, Lord Rogers (Joseph Medrano), are generous to everyone. The entire kingdom and all the caring people nearby try to raise enough gold to rebuild the town and the dam. When almost all the gold they'll need is stashed safely away, Antonio (Kirk Thornton), a rich scion from a nearby realm, appears to offer his assistance. The handsome, charming Antonio quickly wins the heart of Uberta, much to the dismay of Lord Rogers, who loves his queen with all his heart. Worried, suspicious, and, above all, resourceful, Lord Rogers assembles a surprising team of spies to keep eyes on Antonio and see what he's up to. Princess Alise (Jayden Isabel); Lucas (Grant Durazzo), the young tulip farmer; Jean-Bob, the frog (Clayton James); Puffin, the bird (Gardner Jaas); and Speed, the turtle (Doug Stone) take their new assignment most seriously. And when Lord Rogers equips them with a collection of magical spy tools, the eager recruits find themselves on a perilous adventure that takes them far from the safety of their home.
Is it any good?
A bravely adventurous female heroine, assorted inventive supporting characters, and an easy-to-follow story, along with plenty of laughs, make this a solidly appealing episode for the franchise. The Swan Princess: Royally Undercover has brought the young Princess Alise front and center, and it's a good notion. Now that Odette and Derek are happily married adults, their adopted daughter is relatable and a terrific role model for the target young audience. The production is first-rate all around, with a special nod to the vocal performers and writers. There's no backstory in this installment; it will have greater resonance for fans who are familiar with the characters and history of the Swan Princess, but it works as a standalone as well. While the villains of the piece have all the traditional villainous traits (mustache, hook hand, scarred face), the characters have just the right amount of menace to make them scary but not savagely evil. Still, this is not a movie for kids who don't yet understand the difference between imaginary and real violence. Alise and young Lucas, as well as their three animal sidekicks, are threatened, chased, held captive, and in danger for much of the time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the action in The Swan Princess: Royally Undercover. How does your family determine whether or not the kids are ready for cartoon scares and violence? What are possible consequences of a child's not being ready?
"Anthropomorphic" characters in film and literature are animals with humanlike characteristics and behavior. Who are the anthropomorphic characters in this film?
What is the meaning of the expression "you can't tell a book by its cover"? How does this idea relate to Queen Uberta in this movie? What did she learn from her experience?
- On DVD or streaming: March 28, 2017
- Cast: Jayden Isabel, Grant Durazzo, Joseph Medrano
- Director: Richard Rich
- Studio: Sony Pictures Animation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Adventures, Friendship
- Character strengths: Compassion, Courage, Empathy, Teamwork
- Run time: 79 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
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