Happy New Year, kids and caregivers! Here at Collider, we cover a lot of stuff, be it Star Wars, superheroes, or cinephile fare, and everything from movies and TV, to video games and web series. There’s something for everyone. But there’s so much stuff out there that sometimes our younger audience members get left out. So every once in a while, we’d like to shine a spotlight on some family-friendly content that parents and caregivers can confidently watch with the little ones.
In today’s Collider Kids segment, I wanted to call your attention to a magical new animated adventure that’s heading to theaters in the U.S. on January 19th. GKIDS is bringing Hiromasa Yonebayashi‘s Mary and The Witch’s Flower to the States after its debut in Japan and a festival run last year. (Don’t worry, it’s got an excellent English dub with the voice talents of Kate Winslet, Jim Broadbent, and Ruby Barnhill.) Fans of animation, anime, and Studio Ghibli-like movies in general should be super happy that they did, because this adaptation of Mary Stewart‘s children’s book “The Little Broomstick” is an absolute delight. For more on the movie, be sure to check out the U.S. trailer and our own Haleigh Foutch‘s review here. And below, I’ll share a spoiler-free breakdown of why Mary and The Witch’s Flower is a fun fantasy adventure for the whole family that makes for a magical moviegoing experience this January.
Just to clarify, this isn’t a Studio Ghibli production but rather the inaugural film from Studio Ponoc, an independent animation studio that was started by former Studio Ghibli animators. This pedigree definitely shows in the animation and storytelling of Mary and The Witch’s Flower, but the film also stands on its own merits. Centering on the young, bored, and adventurous Mary, the story follows along with her excursions into the countryside where she stumbles upon a flower that grants magical powers, ultimately leading to her discovery of a hidden world that hides a dark secret at its heart. Mary and The Witch’s Flower is a light, bright, magical adventure that features a feisty protagonist who’s sure to be a fan-favorite.
If you like magical adventure stories with fiery, red-headed, female leads (think Brave), then you’re going to love Mary and The Witch’s Flower. The same goes for those of you who like quizzical cats (even if their meowing gets to be a bit much), magical mythology, and family-focused stories set in a small peaceful town in the countryside. This is simply a whimsical tale with a lot of magic and heart on display, and a little bit of peril thrown in for good measure; it shouldn’t be too awfully scary for the young ones, though there is definitely some creepy imagery on display when it comes to the villains and their corrupted magics. (There’s also one particular scene that stood out to me for its rapid succession of flashing lights, so if you have epilepsy concerns, you might want to pass.)
That being said, there are many more scenes that are absolutely joyful, whether it’s Mary’s romp through the wilderness (which reminded me of the excellent animated series Ronja the Robber’s Daughter), stunning flights on the back of a broomstick, interesting depictions of the interface between nature and technology, or an all-out animal frolic that’s pure fun. The story is simple and straightforward, allowing for the animators to play with all of the magical elements involved, which in turn allows the audience to just sit back and enjoy the experience.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly movie that’s entertaining for kids and kids-at-heart alike, be sure to check out Mary and The Witch’s Flower when it opens on January 19th!