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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Intended to entertain rather than educate, but may teach kids a litlte bit about gardening.
Everything that matters takes time. People are more than what might first appear. You can overcome your fears with the right motivation and support. True friends always have your back. On the downside, potential mental health disorders are portrayed as charmingly quirky. Perseverance pays off in the end.
Positive Role Models
Bella is emotionally fragile, with many obsessive-compulsive issues, but her differences set her on a path that requires no approval from others. This liberates her in some ways but also constrains her ability to make connections with others. Alfie seems like a curmudgeonly bully, but he has a soft side. Vernon is a loyal friend to Bella and a good dad.
Violence & Scariness
A strong storm wrecks a garden. Arguments. A character dies (off screen).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief kissing. Flirting/romantic tension.
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"Bastard," "what the hell," "bloody" (in the English slang usage).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alfie takes medicines for his ailments. Adults drink wine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that This Beautiful Fantastic is a sentimental English romantic dramedy with the tone and feel of real-life fairy story, which makes it suitable for kids. Its comic, whimsical approach softens the fact that the lead character, a shy and unusual young woman (Jessica Brown Findlay of Downton Abbey), was abandoned as an infant and, as an adult, seems to be suffering from obsessive-compulsive urges (her compulsions and phobias are portrayed as charming quirks, rather than serious issues). She experiences some heartbreak but recovers. Her greatest challenge is to get out and live her life, and friends help her learn how -- she also learns to work hard and persevere in order to meet a challenging goal. A character dies (off screen), but he leaves an inspiring legacy. Strong language is infrequent but includes "bastard," "hell," and "bloody." There's some flirting and brief kissing, and adults drink wine. Arguments and a strong storm could distress sensitive kids, but they pass quickly. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This twee English comedy feels like a fairy tale written by Lemony Snicket, with acid tinges around a sweet, if inconsequential, middle. While This Beautiful Fantastic has no flying governesses, it does neatly juggle reality and imagination in the manner of Mary Poppins or Edward Scissorhands. Although most of the action seems rooted in reality, the universe that director-writer Simon Aboud has created makes room for magic. So a drawing flies off a piece of paper, but we're somehow prepared for this. That said, not all of the surprises work. When belligerent, cynical Alfie reveals the roots of his heartbreak, we understand his anger -- but the script lets him leap back and forth between childish tantrums and sage kindness so often that it feels like a misstep.
At its heart, This Beautiful Fantastic is in love with beauty -- both natural and created -- as it celebrates flowers and gardens, the artistic geniuses whom Billy studies at the library, and also the book Bella is trying to write. Yet the visual style doesn't quite let the magic of cinema reflect or enhance that love. That said, Wilkinson is terrific as Alfie, and Findlay, Irvine, and Scott are all charming and well suited to their roles. The characters' personality extremes are rather exaggerated (Bella's boss, a librarian who cautions visitors into silence but also yells into a library loudspeaker when it suits her, is a stickler for protocol to a cartoonish degree), but they're still fun.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.