Parental Guidance

The Crimes of Grindelwald and Three Other Films about Fantastic Beasts

If you think The Crimes of Grindelwald might be a bit much for your kids, here are three alternatives about other magical creatures.

by | November 16, 2018 | Comments

This week, fans of the Harry Potter world will likely flock to theaters for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second chapter in the prequel franchise centered on magizoologist Newt Scamander, but how frightening will it be for young viewers? Christy Lemire breaks down whether or not the film’s dark magic will spook the little ones and offers up a trio of alternatives — also about fantastic beasts in various forms — in case you can’t make it to theaters for The Crimes of Grindelwald… or choose not to risk freaking out your toddlers.


THE MOVIE

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) 36%

Rating: PG-13, for some sequences of fantasy action.

The sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is less fantastic, and it actually features fewer beasts. Nevertheless, this spin-off series from the Harry Potter universe continues to slog along. These films aren’t as strong as their source material, and this second one is a step down from the first. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is back for more magical adventures in the 1920s, but they don’t have much to do with his work as a magizoologist. This time, a young Dumbledore (Jude Law) has tasked him with tracking down the villainous Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), who has staged a daring prison break. Grindelwald is amassing all the pureblood wizards worldwide to rise up and take over the half-bloods and Muggles, or No-Majs as they’re known here. Themes of totalitarianism lingered over the first film, but this time, Potter mastermind and screenwriter J.K. Rowling spells it out in much more plain and harrowing fashion. We see imagery reminiscent of the Holocaust in a theoretical flash-forward: trains, fires, ashes. The wizard battles can be quite intense and the overall tone is dark. And returning director David Yates (who also directed the last four Harry Potter movies) is juggling so many characters and subplots, it might be difficult for younger viewers to follow. I’d say this is fine for kids around 9 and older, especially if they’re already familiar with the series.


THE RECOMMENDATIONS

If the Fantastic Beasts movies are too intense for the kids in your family – or you’re just looking for something better – here are some other films featuring magical creatures you all might enjoy.

Pete's Dragon (2016) 88%

Rating: G

You could show your kids the 1977 original, as well. But this one’s far more visually dazzling (and probably easier to find). Director David Lowery’s wistful and transporting family film is sort of a remake, in that it’s about a boy named Pete, and he has a dragon, but that’s about it. This is a lovely film for the whole family; it takes place in the 1970s and feels as if it was made then, too. But in classic Disney tradition, it’s about an orphan. Pete (Oakes Fegley) lost his parents at a very young age, and has been raised in the forest by his only friend: a furry, green dragon he named Elliot. When a forest ranger (Bryce Dallas Howard) discovers him at age 11 and brings him home, he struggles to adjust to civilization while trying to protect his magical pal from loggers who want to capture him for their own glory. Lowery’s pacing is unhurried and he uses wordless sequences efficiently to tell his story. The relationship between Pete and Elliot is full of both frolic and joy as well as quiet, intimate moments. But in the film’s first few minutes, we do see the car accident that killed Pete’s parents; he survives, then wanders alone in the woods until he meets Elliot. The sense of loneliness and loss is powerful and might be too much for very young viewers. Also, a group of loggers take down the dragon using tranquilizer guns and chain him to a flatbed truck, which also could be disturbing. But mostly, I’d say this is a great choice for viewers around 6 and older.

Watch now on: AmazonFandangoNOW, iTunes


Gremlins (1984) 85%

Rating: PG, for adult situations/language, and violence.

Sure, it’s one of the films that inspired the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating, so it’s probably best suited for slightly older kids. But Gremlins is a fundamental ‘80s movie and it’s a ton of fun. Director Joe Dante’s horror comedy classic follows the mayhem that transpires when a seemingly adorable, cuddly creature is mishandled. You’re not supposed to expose it to bright light, get it wet, or feed it after midnight. But of course, things go horribly, thrillingly wrong, turning the sweet-faced Gizmo into a maniacal fiend who spawns multiple offspring hell-bent on wreaking havoc. (The effects are achieved through puppets, but man, are they creepy puppets.) Understandably, the human response to this calamity is equally intense. Gremlins turns violent and contains quite a bit of language. Still, this is a blast of a choice for viewers around 10 and older.

Watch now on: AmazonFandangoNOWiTunes


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) 81%

Rating: PG, for some scary moments and mild language.

If your kids are new to the whole Harry Potter universe and you’re looking to introduce them to it, at least in film form, why not start from the beginning? The first couple of movies in the series – and especially the first one – are quite sweet and gentle. There’s plenty of magic to be found, and the villains and dark themes begin announcing their presence. But for the most part, director Chris Columbus’ film is all about ushering us into Rowling’s rich world. Plus, it’s just such a hoot to see these now-established actors when they were still young unknowns. You know the story – I won’t waste your time with it here. The orphaned Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), living miserably with his oppressive aunt and uncle, discovers he’s a wizard and is whisked away to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry gets his own pet owl, whom he names Hedwig, and begins his close friendship with the towering Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), who manages many of the fantastic beasts as Hogwarts’ groundskeeper. Among the creatures Harry and his friends encounter are a baby dragon named Norbert and a three-headed dog ironically named Fluffy. The Harry Potter movies improve significantly from here, but Sorcerer’s Stone is certainly a great place to start for viewers around 7 and older.

Watch now on: AmazonFandangoNOWiTunes

Tag Cloud

black screenings Tubi 2016 Acorn TV witnail miniseries crime drama video on demand Sony Pictures chucky MCU 4/20 Turner Cannes MTV Cartoon Network Lucasfilm Chilling Adventures of Sabrina documentary golden globes Schedule YouTube jamie lee curtis anime Teen mutant New York Comic Con Apple TV Plus richard e. Grant Captain marvel independent American Society of Cinematographers rotten Vudu AMC Disney Plus 71st Emmy Awards Grammys discovery reviews 2015 Pet Sematary halloween tv PaleyFest Superheroes LGBTQ PBS X-Men canceled Trivia Disney festivals TLC best children's TV OWN WGN game show Bravo blockbuster Star Wars harry potter Premiere Dates comedies werewolf renewed TV shows Endgame Martial Arts kids Universal comics Comedy Central blaxploitation OneApp cooking Dark Horse Comics composers nature BET Awards Apple DC Comics Cosplay halloween cults Funimation all-time comic USA Network Television Academy 24 frames dragons worst movies travel Nickelodeon Tomatazos Tarantino zombies Reality slashers PlayStation Holidays E3 DC Universe Crackle japanese reboot TV renewals Lifetime Christmas movies child's play FXX Mudbound 2020 ESPN singing competition 2018 romance Disney+ Disney Plus Sneak Peek series Set visit Showtime cancelled romantic comedy Rocketman based on movie Super Bowl Comic Book teaser Nominations superhero fast and furious films Syfy Disney Channel Walt Disney Pictures Black History Month MSNBC Discovery Channel NBC serial killer scorecard strong female leads Classic Film police drama Peacock green book toronto facebook Watching Series Chernobyl stoner Amazon Studios Valentine's Day Adult Swim IFC Films Thanksgiving History Extras Spectrum Originals versus Rom-Com award winner Mindy Kaling SDCC movies Anna Paquin BBC disaster Holiday Creative Arts Emmys Warner Bros. remakes crime cartoon a nightmare on elm street CW Seed aliens directors Reality Competition Sundance TV BAFTA Brie Larson stand-up comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt CBS breaking bad VH1 thriller Pirates docudrama Sci-Fi psychological thriller HBO Max DirecTV Quiz dc Summer TBS Spring TV Paramount robots CBS All Access Pop Winners parents crime thriller war Television Critics Association revenge Arrowverse historical drama Amazon Prime Video Crunchyroll what to watch Comics on TV TCA Winter 2020 Avengers Black Mirror psycho Infographic Stephen King cancelled TV shows GLAAD Netflix Christmas movies cinemax FX on Hulu scary movies quibi SundanceTV sag awards Columbia Pictures Ellie Kemper anthology Emmy Nominations 2017 72 Emmy Awards Christmas archives supernatural indie justice league technology TV Land Lifetime Baby Yoda cops Sundance hollywood Rock 20th Century Fox nfl Shudder boxoffice twilight dogs YouTube Premium APB dark The Arrangement name the review Video Games Britbox Academy Awards stop motion Travel Channel spanish language IFC rotten movies we love australia vampires video Amazon Prime Apple TV+ Music joker ID 45 Countdown adventure Oscars Fox Searchlight El Rey First Reviews laika Hallmark TCA 2017 Awards Tour comiccon classics christmas movies Pixar RT21 TruTV LGBT festival WarnerMedia Song of Ice and Fire Calendar Writers Guild of America politics Musical Trophy Talk dceu USA mockumentary Logo Pop TV GoT Disney streaming service south america free movies sequel HBO Photos DGA 2019 Fantasy latino social media Esquire Amazon NYCC Red Carpet unscripted Paramount Network E! ABC Family Star Trek Marathons transformers casting animated book Mary Tyler Moore San Diego Comic-Con Musicals ABC National Geographic critics game of thrones Marvel news TIFF Awards worst political drama franchise movie period drama TNT emmy awards Freeform Elton John Spike Emmys TCA Fall TV Starz television Election sequels toy story Fox News Binge Guide spain mission: impossible Polls and Games A&E First Look Kids & Family sports TV The Witch DC streaming service The Academy sitcom adaptation Ghostbusters universal monsters Box Office SXSW nbcuniversal FX Animation diversity FOX BBC One binge BBC America Opinion Winter TV Character Guide die hard Year in Review Action YouTube Red Film Festival cats Mary Poppins Returns Turner Classic Movies space documentaries natural history Marvel Studios finale tv talk CMT spanish ratings cars Drama doctor who streaming asian-american The Purge 21st Century Fox satire Women's History Month comic books Sundance Now TCA Awards Hear Us Out true crime Interview Toys spy thriller biography hist concert Hulu football batman GIFs Country canceled TV shows Mystery President obituary Biopics Epix VOD zero dark thirty VICE foreign Best and Worst elevated horror See It Skip It YA venice medical drama Comedy cancelled television Horror Ovation hispanic Heroines HBO Go The Walking Dead Family ghosts 007 spinoff Marvel Television A24 indiana jones Trailer french Netflix cancelled TV series criterion Tumblr RT History italian Lionsgate Pride Month ITV talk show Certified Fresh Masterpiece science fiction Shondaland Hallmark Christmas movies Film CNN screen actors guild Rocky Podcast crossover BET theme song The CW Western Superheroe TCM dramedy Mary poppins Nat Geo spider-man Food Network zombie