The Trumpet of the Swan

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Trumpet of the Swan Movie Poster Image
Sweet animated movie about finding your voice; some peril.
  • G
  • 2001
  • 75 minutes

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 2+
Based on 3 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Themes include perseverance and courage. "If we try our very, very best, we can do anything we set our minds to." Sometimes the biggest obstacles turn out to be blessings. Conventional wisdom isn't necessarily the best kind of wisdom.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mute from birth, Louie is motivated to learn to read and write so he can communicate with at least humans. Because Louie doesn't speak, he is a great listener. 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. When Louie realizes that his dad stole a trumpet for him, he leaves his beloved home to make enough money to pay for the stolen trumpet. The sounds Louie squeaks out of the new trumpet are terrible at first, but, through drive and perseverance, he learns to play beautifully. An unscrupulous human tries to take advantage of Louie's great talents. Louie flies through a lightning storm. 

Violence & Scariness

Louie's father breaks a store window and steals a trumpet. Louie's 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.

Sexy Stuff
Language

"Creep," "feather breath," "worm eater."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of an infant and 3 year old Written byhlgbccheer August 22, 2011

Do your kid a favor and read the book to him instead!

I watched this movie with my almost-4 year old. As a parent I could say that it was an okay movie. Other than the shooting at the end, the movie was fine for... Continue reading
Adult Written bynduns September 6, 2010

Why is it that after Swan Princess, Richard Rich started to suck?

This is without a doubt the worst thing he has pumped out. I liked the idea and the story wasn't too bad either, but my god, the dialogue in this was drea... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byKmfan97 January 17, 2015

This is for all ages but it's without a doubt the worst animated film I've seen.

Ever since I was in 3rd grade I have despised of this movie. The animation and voice acting is bad and the musical numbers are just atrocious. This is my first... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byKatherineLovesJake July 10, 2010

AMAZING

i love love love love love this!

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?

  • How do the characters in The Trumpet of the Swan demonstrate perseverance and courage? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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