Up and Away

Movie review by
Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media
Up and Away Movie Poster Image
Magic carpet adventure has slapstick and toilet humor.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 81 minutes

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

Educational Value

Viewers may learn something about Arabic culture and architecture, and even greetings and phrases such as, "As-salamu alaykum" and "Inshallah." The movie takes place in a city under a sovereign ruler, which may spark discussion.

Positive Messages

Themes of perseverance, courage, positivity, and curiosity. Also the importance of family and teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hodja is adventurous and and principled. He keeps to his promise of returning the magic carpet and ignores those who say he should give up. He is strong, smart, and uses his wits. Emerald is a thief who justifies her actions by saying she "borrows from those who have too much." The leader of the thieves, The Rat, makes the children steal and is abusive to them. Everyone lives in fear of the sultan but Hodja stands up to him. Some cultural stereotyping in how the sultan threatens to deal with prisoners. The sultan also has many wives, who feed him constantly.

Violence & Scariness

Some minor threats, including characters shaking fists and raising hands at each other. Guards pointing spear-headed weapons at characters. Some slapstick violence, including a child tripping up three adults on a staircase. A pack of camels let off gas as they squash a character. Animals bite character's bottoms. Feeding people to the sultan's menacing crocodiles is a regular threat. Some reference to sentencing prisoners to death and having hands cut off.

Sexy Stuff

Some insults including "jerk," "nitwit," "idiot," and "stupid." A character refers to another as having "lost his mind" and reels off a list of slang terms for a nervous breakdown. A character is regularly called a "country bumpkin" as an insult based on where they come from. Burp and fart jokes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Brief view of hookah pipes but they are not in use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Up and Away is a Danish (dubbed into English) animated adventure -- based on Ole Lund Kirkegaard's 1970 novel, Hodja fra Pjort -- and has toilet humor and mild threat. The story follows Hodja (voiced by Eoin McCormick) a young goatherd who goes on an adventure to the big city after being given a magic carpet. There he meets Emerald (Lucy Carolan) a  local thief who justifies her actions by claiming she only "borrows from those who have too much." Set in an Aladdin-style Arabian city, the movie offers the opportunity to observe different architecture and practices. Attentive viewers may even pick up the occasional Arabic phrase used in the movie. However, there are references to prisoners being sentenced to death and even cutting off hands as a punishment, which plays to some cultural stereotyping. The mean sultan -- who also has many wives -- also threatens to feed people to his crocodiles, which may spook younger viewers. Much of the action is slapstick, with characters tripping each other up and animals biting people's bottoms. There is much toilet humor with characters burping and farting for laughs. Characters also fire insults toward each other including "jerk," "idiot," and "country bumpkin." Unused hookah pipes are seen in the background.

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What's the story?

In UP AND AWAY, young goatherd Hodja's (voiced by Eoin McCormick) dreams of adventure are answered when he borrows a magic carpet and heads to the big city. But once there, Hodja makes an enemy of the sultan (Dermot Magennis) who'll stop at nothing to have the carpet for himself.

Is it any good?

This is a sturdy, well put together animated movie that will keep young kids entertained throughout its lean 81-minute runtime. There are few surprises, but it's well paced to hold the interest of even very young viewers. Up and Away is consistently funny -- much of the laughs come from Raja the goat (Peter Zhelder) -- and even when it veers to the ruder side of the line, it’s always done with charm, pitched to raise a giggle rather than cause offense. This playful nature keeps everything lighthearted so the characters never get bogged down in the repression of the sultan (a greedy ruler who is essentially a human version of iconic Star Wars despot, Jabba the Hutt). However, the sultan's approach to punishment -- plus the fact he has many wives -- plays a little toward lazy stereotypes. 

The movie is always colorful, which helps add flair and distract from the somewhat sub-standard animation. A Danish production, the English voiceover doesn't always match the mouths of the characters. But the spirited performances make up for it. This magic carpet adventure doesn't break any new ground, but regardless takes the viewer to a magical place and offers a brief, enjoyable ride.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the potty humor in Up and Away. Is it funny or too crude? Why do so many movies for kids amp up this kind of humor?

  • How do the characters in the movie demonstrate perseverance, curiositycourage, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

  • What does the movie teach us about Arabic culture? Can you give an example of something you learned from the film that you didn't know before? Do you think the movie played up to cultural stereotypes? If so, how? Why is stereotyping problematic?

  • Talk about the sultan's power. Everyone he rules must do exactly what he says. Is this the same where you live or are there any differences?

Movie details

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