Parents' Guide to

Wolfwalkers

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Lush, lyrical Irish folktale has dark moments, peril.

Movie PG 2020 100 minutes
Wolfwalkers Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 27 parent reviews

age 5+

Historical Fiction: For Better or Worse

Personally: I LOVED this movie. However, I do understand the concerns some people have. Going in, it is good to be aware that this movie: 1. Is based on Ireland's 1600s and general religious/spiritual history 2. It openly embraces Irish culture, including non-Abrahamic folk practices/beliefs (mysticism and nature: aka, "Paganism") 3. The oppressors of the story are openly Christian and driven by faith-based colonialism --------- Knowing this, you can choose whether this movie is appropriate for your own household beliefs and be ready to address any topics if need be (ex: if you feel the need to say not all Christians are like the antagonist, but that we should respect other religions that are not Christian or that seem different from us: as that is the moral gained from the antagonist's plight). The fact that this movie, unlike most of media, will explicitly mention religion is what might take you aback (but in my case, I think it's great!). --------- Onto what I loved: Irish culture is an important part of my life, and I love any way to share that with others. I am 100% okay with mysticism, respecting nature, and culture-based spirituality. The moral lesson is strong in the movie, and it positively shows the English girl and Irish girl working together to preserve the oppressed Wolfwalkers way of life. This is notable because it was the English hurting the Irish in this case, but it's not about where you're from, but the kindness or suffering you give to others (hence the English girl as a protagonist). The movie encourages NOT jumping to violence or bullying when you don't understand something: it is anti-colonialism, pro-environment, anti-destruction, pro-diversity, pro-empathy. --------- While some families may find the fact that there are aggressive wolves in this movie problematic, I think it simply depends on the life you live... it is implied one of the girl's does not have a mother, but this is life, and it's a common trope even for the common Disney movies. Nothing that I can think of that was shown is any worse than Disney movies, so if those are okay, this should be, too. It might be violent in the sense that fairytales and stories of heroes with swords tend to be (no blood). If your child is particularly sensitive and perhaps sheltered, the movie might not be for them: the movie tugs at your emotions. --------- Anecdotally, my five-year-old sister loved the movie and I saw no issue with it. She loves wolves, gaelic spirituality isn't a scary topic, etc etc. Also, she was absolutely captivated, whereas she often doesn't sit still or focus for long. The movie has great story progression, a beautifully unique art style, and it has a good sense of emotion in order to keep your attention, build and release tension, move from one scene to the next. It has good emotions and "bad" emotions. --------- It feels like an enthralling folk story told by the fire, or a shameless fairytale about triumph. --------- If you're not anti-Pagan, I would say to at least check out the movie. If you want to watch it to see how it is before showing your kid, do that. Because this really is a wonderful movie.
age 6+

Ireland's Wolfwalkers best the Mouse

If you're looking for a beautifully animated family film that's not Disney or Netflix, Irish studio Cartoon Saloon has offered up Wolfwalkers, the third installment of their Irish folklore trilogy. Wolfwalkers tells the story of an English Puritan girl named Robyn who struggles to find her place in Kilkenny, Ireland, under the cruel reign of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. She meets a young girl named Mebh who is among the last of the wolfwalkers, a unique band of peaceful werewolves blessed by St. Patrick himself to become wolves when they sleep (and yes, it is a blessing). Together, Robyn and Mebh set out to protect the last Irish wolves from Cromwell's tyranny. Cromwell (whose actual name is never spoken) is portrayed in the film as accurate to what he was like in real life. He blasphemously deifies himself, demanding to be referred to only as the Lord Protector, and boasting that his commands are "the Lord's will." At the risk of her own freedom and even her life, Robyn calls him out and defies him to protect Mebh and her mother. Kids will cheer for Robyn as she leads an army of wolves against Cromwell's tyranny. Some battle scenes are intense, and there is a very minor amount of blood visible, but this film would earn a G rating in the 90s. Wolfwalkers is available on Apple TV+, and on Blu-Ray from Cartoon Saloon as part of the Irish Folklore Trilogy set, which includes Book of Kells and Song of the Sea.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (27 ):
Kids say (15 ):

Moore and Stewart deliver another gorgeously animated, emotionally resonant medieval folktale set in an Ireland full of colorful magic, in Wolfwalkers. In their earlier film The Secret of Kells, magical wolf-girl Aisling said, "I have lived through many ages, through the eyes of salmon, deer, and wolf. I have seen the Northmen invading Ireland, destroying all in search of gold. I've seen suffering in the darkness. Yet I have seen beauty thrive in the most fragile of places." That sentiment is ever present in Wolfwalkers, too, with the central mythical creatures reduced in numbers to a mother-daughter pair who lead the remaining wolves of the forest. The people have begun to turn on their enchanted past: The English occupiers care nothing for the Irish people or the beauty of the land, only what it can provide for them. The movie focuses on the special relationship between English hunter Robyn and Irish wolfwalker Mebh, both of whom adore their one parent and desperately want to help each other.

The film's animation is, as you'd expect, breathtakingly beautiful. While the town is dark and drab, with harsh lines and scowling faces, the forest comes alive in vibrant, verdant greens and rich, earthy browns, with circular flourishes that draw the eye everywhere on the screen. It's like two worlds: the one that sustains magic and the one that rejects it. The atmospheric Celtic soundtrack adds to the story's emotional beats, and the screenplay manages to be both hopeful and heartbreaking. Wolfwalkers is, at heart, an exploration of how colonialism and empire erase local culture. These themes may not be obvious to younger viewers, but they're powerful. Families may cry together as the main characters fight for their right to exist, for their survival, in an increasingly unsympathetic and hostile environment.

Movie Details

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