Wonderful for the Whole Family
I'm always looking for quality viewing for our kids, but my toughest media challenge is finding something compelling for everyone for "family movie night." We have an almost 13 year old boy (7th grade), a 9 year old girl (3rd grade), a grown man who has very little free time and gets bored easily, and myself, no easy customer.
As I enjoyed every moment of this film last night, I looked around at each family member and saw rapt faces, tears, and laughter. What a pleasure it was to consume this well written, well developed, well animated, and well acted film. The story is touching and heart wrenching, including a myriad of human and animal characters, who range from solemn to quirky. At times it is so preposterous that I laughed out loud. The plot moves along with a calm cadence yet twists and turns keeping the viewer's attention throughout. The themes are heavy: slavery, abandonment, loss, and treachery, but they are balanced with love, tenderness, loyalty, and courage. We can all learn a thing or two from the pure heart and steadfastness of Maki.
Our daughter did say "this movie was too sad." But my take is that it wasn't too much for her. It is a portrayal and a perspective not seen by 21st century American kids. It's a voyage into another culture and condition that gets everyone thinking, no matter what the age. We had a great family discussion after the film, initiated by the kids.
When I evaluate media for my family, it usually falls into one of three basic categories: enriching and entertaining, entertaining and harmless, and better off without it. This film definitely falls into the first category, which is the one I always feel best about my family consuming. I highly recommend this film for every family. It's one of those that will sink into our bones and be recalled for years to come when life presents us with, well...life.