If you follow us on social media you may know that we just recently recorded a mini documentary about how our family celebrates the holidays. The documentary was filmed in connection with a home goods store. (We can’t wait to share the finished product with our readers soon!!!) Consequently our house has been decorated for Christmas since mid October.
We resisted the Holiday Spirit for a while but by the week of Halloween I even caught Mike listening to his favorite Michael Buble Christmas Album. When we were invited to see a pre-screening for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms on October 30th we knew that it was perfect timing for a Christmas movie!
One of my favorite Christmas memories from childhood was going to see The Nutcracker Ballet with my mom and sister. The ballet is beautiful and moving but if I’m being honest, the storyline is a little confusing. When I first heard that Disney was making the story into a movie, my interest was peaked. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms was visually stunning, and the characters were quite beautiful. Disney took no time jumping right into the action packed story. Though the world of the Nutcracker is one of magic and imagination, the story itself was not difficult to follow. The acting was weak at times and the characters seemed underdeveloped. However the themes of inner strength, bravery and resourcefulness remain strong.
Mike and I left the theater with a few thoughts for families who plan to take children to see this movie.
Highlights (by the grade):
- Girl Power! Clara is a strong, smart, creative, brave and takes initiative. She is an natural at inventing and fixing things. She uses her mind and her creativity throughout the film. She does not wait for someone else to solve her problems, she thinks things through and takes action. Clara (played by MacKenzie Foy) presents herself as a natural born leader, but mixes fierceness with caring and compassion.( A+)
- Racial diversity. Mike and I were pleased to see that the role of Godfather Dosselmeyer was played by a person of color (Morgan Freeman), as well as the role of The Nutcracker, Captain Phillip Hoffman (Jayden Fowora-Knight). Disney continues to make strides in racial and gender equality and that makes us lifetime fans. As a multi-racial family who also believes in the empowerment and leadership of woman, it’s refreshing to see films with racial and gender diversity. (A)
- Strong storyline. As I mentioned earlier, I was very curious how a somewhat confusing historical ballet could be turned into a full-length movie, but Disney pulled it off. And in good time too. The movie gets right to the point and only consumes a total of an hour and a half. It did not feel rushed. At times the acting is slightly off, but it does not detract from the storyline. When Clara steps into the mysterious parallel world, she discovers three distinct realms and the peril of a fourth realm, governed by the tyrant Mother Ginger. Your children will not lose interest. (B+)
- Visually stunning picture and effects. In true Disney fashion, The Nutcracker leaves nothing to be desired when it comes to the visuals and special effects. Set in the late 1800’s, everything from the Christmas Eve party Clara’s family attends at the beginning of the film, to Godfather’s Dosselmeyer’s workshop, to the parallel world to which Clara is transported, are beautiful. (A+)
- Creepy Mouse King and Tin Soldiers (SPOILERS). Right after Clara finds herself in the parallel world, she encounters The Nutcracker Soldier Phillip. He cautions her not to cross the bridge into the fourth realm. But she insists and he obliges when he discovers she’s the daughter of the lost queen. While they are in the fourth realm, they encounter the Mouse King who is made up of thousands of tiny mice. It may be scary for younger children. It totally creeped me out! In the same vein, there is a point in the film where you discover that Sugar Plum (played by Keira Knightley) is actually the villain and Mother Ginger from the fourth realm is not. Sugar Plum turns toy tin soldiers into massive killing machines. Take caution and have some discussions before seeing the film with younger children. (B+)
Thoughts for adoptive families:
(SPOILERS) Because we are an adoptive family, we view nearly everything we see in Hollywood, and on television through the lens of adoption. And since nearly 100% of our audience are adoptive families, we would not recommend a film without sharing our thoughts for your family first and foremost. Adoptive families should be aware that themes of loss and sadness are sprinkled throughout. Clara’s mother has recently passed away and Clara is dealing with anger, confusion and sadness. Clara’s mother was “orphaned” as a young child and was raised by her Godfather played by Morgan Freeman.
Family Fun Center.
We are pleased to be able to partner with Disney Pictures to give you all-access to our special The Nutcracker and the Four Realms family fun center, complete with coloring pages, special behind-the scenes clips, and fun fact sheets. Click below to receive instant access….
All in all, the Berry family highly recommends Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. We are excited to take our kids back to the theater to see this movie as the Holiday season approaches!
Have you and your family seen The Nutcracker and the Four Realms yet? If so, what were your thoughts?