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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Trumpet of the Swan is a 2001 animated film. It has some tension and peril but is a fine family film based on E.B. White's story. Louie's father breaks a store window and steals a trumpet. The father is chased and shot at. Louie and Boyd fight over the girl they both like. A fox tries to attack some swans. A mean boy is about to go over a waterfall, but Louie swoops in to save him. Louie flies through a lightning storm. Convinced that his son will be a failure because he doesn't have a beautiful swan voice, Louie's dad risks his life to find a voice substitute. An unscrupulous human tries to take advantage of Louie's great talents. Name-calling includes "creep," "feather breath," and "worm eater."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
As THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN begins, proud and loving trumpeter swans Father (voiced by Jason Alexander) and Mother (voiced by Mary Steenburgen) are awaiting the hatching of their new children. The young cygnets are all they dreamed of, except for Louie, who is mute. Louie can't express his feelings without words or attract a mate without a trumpeting sound. Louie turns to a human friend named Sam, who takes him to school so that his teacher Mrs. Hammerbottom (voiced by Carol Burnett) can teach him to read and write. Father tries to steal a trumpet from a musical instrument store. Even though he knows stealing is wrong, he feels he must to help his son. Louie's skill at reading and writing doesn't do him any good with the swans, who can't understand him, but he does find a sweet girl swan named Serena (Reese Witherspoon) who understands him without words. But he can't settle down with Serena until he puts his father's heart at rest by finding a way to pay for the trumpet. After many adventures, Louie and Serena are able to live happily ever after.
Is it any good?
Most of E.B. White's elegant language is missing, and the animation is nowhere near Disney-level, but this version of the story is still a very good family movie with much to enjoy and talk about. Parents will enjoy identifying the many celebrities providing the voices, and kids will like the friendly characters and cheer for Louie to finally find his voice. Kids who have read the book can debate which version of The Trumpet of the Swan they prefer, and kids who haven't read the book may be inspired to do so.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of finding a way to communicate and the value of people who can understand us, like Louie does in The Trumpet of the Swan. How do you make your voice heard?
This movie is based on a book. If you've read the book, how does the movie compare?
If you haven't read the book, does the movie make you want to read it? Why, or why not?
Which are usually better: books or movies based on books? Why?
- In theaters: May 11, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: July 31, 2001
- Cast: Jason Alexander, Mary Steenburgen, Reese Witherspoon
- Director: Richard Rich
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Wild Animals
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 75 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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