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 movie takes place during WWII and a lot of time is spent focusing on possible death in battle -- some of it put in upsetting terms, such as characters being told that their "innards will be spread like jam on toast" when they are killed. Some parents might not be comfortable with the movie's focus on war. The falcons may frighten small children. One character appears to die, and characters are in peril for most of the movie. There are explosions and gunfire during battle, lots of fighting, birds being held hostage in cages, and bones of dead birds shown. We also see dead birds that have been stuffed. A bird is injected with truth serum. There is some toilet humor involving burping and passing gas. Since this is a British production voiced by British actors, kids may have a hard time understanding all of the dialogue. They will also probably miss most of the references to WWII.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Valiant (voiced by Ewan McGregor) is a brave but small pigeon who dreams of joining the elite Royal Homing Pigeon Service and serving his country during WWII. Despite the odds, he and his pal Bugsy (Ricky Gervais) endure the rigorous training necessary to prepare them for dangerous missions behind enemy lines. But as a brigade of evil German falcons threatens their initial mission, Valiant and the rag-tag group of birds from Squad F must save the day.
Is it any good?
Despite the G rating, VALIANT doesn't really seem aimed at kids. Most children won't be familiar with the WWII setting, and many of the comedic references to Normandy, the French Resistance, and war propaganda films will be lost on them. Some parents won't be comfortable with the movie's focus on war and death, either. However, kids will probably enjoy the colorful bird characters and some of the lowbrow humor involving pratfalls and burping -- just know that this movie, which is being advertised as "coming from the producer of Shrek and Shrek 2" doesn't have much in common with either of these lighthearted films.
While kids may like the classic tale of an underdog overcoming the odds, they aren't likely to be too interested in all the WWII details -- their grandparents are more likely to enjoy the clever references than they are. At a recent screening, kids seemed bored throughout much of the movie -- any laughter was generally coming from parents, who enjoyed references like a French mouse named Charles De Girl. The parts of the movie that focused on Bugsy burping or the bumbling characters falling or bumping into each other elicited the most laughs from children. Overall this is a cute and visually appealing film, but not all kids are going to appreciate it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about WWII since the reasons for the war are never explained and the movie assumes some knowledge of the events -- many of the jokes revolve around references to the war. Parents with younger kids can focus on the message that "it's not the size of the wingspan that counts, but the size of the spirit". They could also point out to kids that the film was inspired by the fact that pigeons saved thousands of lives during the war, and that 31 of the 53 top honors given to animal heroes went to pigeons.
- In theaters: August 19, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: December 13, 2005
- Cast: Ewan McGregor, John Cleese, Ricky Gervais
- Director: Gary Chapman
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, History, Wild Animals
- Run time: 76 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- MPAA explanation: all audiences
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