One of the beautiful things about movies is their ability to make everything outside the theater disappear. They can take you away from your problems and immerse you into a world with problems of their own. A Monster Calls is one of those films that can perform this magic trick.
A Monster Calls is about a boy named Connor who has a mother battling cancer. To add to his already depressing life; he has an absentee father, is picked on by bullies, and has an overbearing grandmother. Connor needs guidance and a friend. An old tree outside his window becomes the mentor and friend that Connor needs.
If you are planning on seeing this movie, get ready for a heavy case of The Feels. At one point, I got the ugly cries. You know the ones where your nose is running and no matter how hard you fight the tears, they roll down your face like Niagara Falls?
The acting in the movie is about as good as you’ll find in a movie this year and I can’t rave about the boy that plays Connor enough. Lewis MacDougall plays Connor and should be included in Academy Award conversations. As should Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver. Director J.A. Bayona combined beautifully sweeping scenery and up-close emotional moments to showcase a beautiful story.
The tree is voiced by Liam Neeson and I had the opportunity to interview him recently. We chatted about fatherhood and film-making. To read that interview, click here. I also interviewed J. A Bayona, Lewis MacDougall, and writer Patrick Ness. Check back on January, 6th to read those interviews plus more from Liam Neeson.
Is A Monster Calls appropriate for children?
I brought my 10-year-old daughter with me and she enjoyed the movie. She even said it was one of her favorite movies of all-time. I’ll probably hold off on letting my 4-year-old see the movie because of the drama involved with the mother’s battle with cancer.
The tree has a few scary scenes and the beatings by the bullies are intense. The PG-13 rating probably was given because of the mature story-line of dealing with death.
In a nutshell…
Cursing: Nothing notable.
Violence: Beatings by bullies, the Monster (tree) destroys many things, some of the stories the tree tells include fighting and death.
Scary Scenes: The tree has a couple of scary scenes, but the majority of scary scenes is included in animation that accompanies the Monster’s tales.
If your child is okay with adult storylines, then they will probably be okay with A Monster Calls. But again, the story is highly emotional, but one that I highly recommend. I think 9 and up would be fine with the movie.
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And don’t forget to read my interview with Liam Neeson.