Based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T. A. Hoffmann, this coming-of-age movie adaptation feels partially familiar, yet also new and wacky. It feels like a sugary cupcake that is beautifully decorated, but mostly fluff with no nutritional value. Very young girls may enjoy it. Most everyone else will be bored or disappointed.
IS IT ANY GOOD? C+
Not really. Thankfully, there is some ballet in it, although it was pretty basic. It should have been spectacular, considering its namesake. (Keep watching after the rolling credits at the end for some more ballet moments.) A lot of viewers complained it didn't have enough of Tchaikovsky’s famous 1892 Tchailkovsky's Nutcracker SuiteWith Swan Lake, although there is a respectful nod to the source material a few times.
The set pieces and production design are really beautiful, even magical. So are the costumes, but some of the make-up is bizarre and just doesn’t work. For example, Helen Mirren’s cracked face was odd. She was fantastic, as she is in everything, but she looked like a pirate clown. So did Morgan Freeman.
The star of the movie, Mackenzie Foy, does a great job with a British accent (she’s American.) She was adorable in Interstellarand The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. She's absolutely lovely, and I’m sure her acting will mature and improve with age. Captain Philip as the nutcracker, however, was disappointing. In fact, I didn't even realize Jayden Fowora-Knight WAS the nutcracker until almost the end of the movie! His suit should have looked more like a nutcracker somehow. The white mustache was all wrong, but that doesn’t mean I know how to make his mouth look more like a nutcracker. The moments when he and Clara spoke to each other felt like a high school play with flat dialogue. He was fine in Ready Player One, but he's just not very memorable as the Nutcracker, which is really sad, considering his name is in the title of the movie!
Kiera Knightly play an actual character was fun to watch. Her cotton candy hair was cute until she ate some of it (creepy.)
Most of the film is slow-moving and emotionless. Although the title suggests four realms, you really only get to see one of them. There are some interesting characters from the other realms, but their time on the screen is very limited. The little bit of humor in the film doesn’t land most of the time. What could have become an instant Christmas classic is simply a disappointment.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS? (PG)
Young children may be confused by the plot.
This is yet another Disney princess movie that celebrates female empowerment (that’s a good thing.)
One swear word.
Some fighting (bloodless).
Some cleavage seen in women's scooped necklines of their dresses.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
One of the themes is learning to cope with the death of a loved one. Clara states in the film, “When you miss someone, you remember them.” Another lesson this movie offers is to do what's right. Courage is also a thread that runs through each of the story lines.
For a better family movie about a journey to a magical land, try Jim Henson's Labyrinth. Rent or buy it here!
Trina Boice is an author of 23 books and teaches online for BYU-Idaho in the Pathway program. She received the Young Mother of the Year honor in 2004, an award that completely amuses her 4 sons. She’s a popular international speaker in China and writes movie reviews atwww.MovieReviewMom.com. You can find her books on Amazon, and at www.TrinasBooks.com