A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this adaptation of the popular book by Babe author Dick King-Smith has a very different plotline than the original story, escalating the violence within the WWII-era setting. The monster becomes truly dangerous when fully grown (in an old-school King Kong way), lashing out at people with snapping jaws -- which leads the British soldiers to open fire on it. But it's still a kid-friendly film overall.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE WATER HORSE: LEGEND OF THE DEEP takes off when Angus (Alex Etel), the lonely, nature-loving son of a Scottish WWII soldier missing in combat finds an egg by the water, and it hatches into a small, mischievous, dragon-like creature. When the family's mansion is commandeered by British soldiers to establish a defense against possible German submarines in the loch, Angus hides his baby beastie with help from his older sister Kirstie (Priyanka Xi) and Scottish handyman Lewis (Ben Chaplin), who identifies the creature as a "water horse" of Highland folklore -- a fabulous, fast-growing, androgynous lake- and sea-monster of which only one exists at a time. Now named Crusoe, the creature grows huge in just a few weeks and the heroes scramble to keep their new pet hidden. But glimpses of the monster create a stir in the area, and Angus and Krista need to think fast when Crusoe becomes the target of heavily armed British soldiers.
Is it any good?
Grade-schoolers are the best audience for this well-mounted, big-budget children's fantasy. For older viewers who are already familiar with the many clichés it trots out, it may be one trip to the loch too many. Just as the soldiers in the film do during roll call, it's possible to sound off -- one! two! -- the movie's many overly familiar elements. Lonely child hero whose father is dead? Here! Amazing, misunderstood monster friend who must be kept a secret? Here! Clueless single mom with nasty suitor? Here! Ending stolen from Free Willy? Here! It's not that The Water Horse is a bad movie -- it's just entirely predictable.
When Angus -- who's got a crippling fear of water -- goes for a stirring ride on through the loch's aquatic wonderland on his monster pal's back, the movie really takes off, but you're still left thirsty for something a wee bit more original. Even Crusoe, as beautifully computer-generated as he is, sorta looks like the creature from the boy-and-his-dragon epic Eragon.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Loch Ness Monster. Do you think it could be real? Why or why not? How might a story like this have gotten started? Can you think of other movies in which a child forms a secret attachment with an unusual pet or unearthly friend? How is this movie similar to and different from them? Families who've read the book the movie is based on can compare the two -- which do you like better, and why?
- In theaters: December 24, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: April 7, 2008
- Cast: Alex Etel, Ben Chaplin, Emily Watson
- Director: Jay Russell
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 113 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some action/peril, mild language and brief smoking.
- Last updated: February 7, 2020
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