The Plot at a Glance
A young girl with an overbearing, career-oriented mother moves into a new neighborhood so she can go to a prestigious academy nearby as part of an intricately-controlled Life Plan. However, her neighbor is an eccentric retired pilot who tinkers with an old plane in his backyard and likes to tell stories about the titular Little Prince, a fantastical kid who lived in a strange, faraway land. The girl and the pilot bond over his stories and she learns a thing or two about life, loss, and family.
The film is based on a massively successful kids' book that I'm ashamed to admit I didn't even know existed until I saw the movie. I'm an ignoramus.
I really loved this movie. But I don't think it's going to win over kids quite the same way.
The Little Prince is one of those films that feels like an immediate classic, a timeless story about lofty themes and ideas that should be shared and discussed by everyone. Good luck getting a four year-old to sit down and pay attention.
It's almost too smart for its own good. Not very subtle, though. The Little Prince relies on a lot of literary shorthand to make its points, which is sometimes disingenuous. It's so easy for filmmakers who have a decent amount of money banked away to preach about the vanity of a career - any time I see those archetypes in film, I want to scream, "Fine, where you gonna get all your money, huh!?"
Fortunately, it avoids any simplistic conclusions. There's a beautiful stylistic climax where the girl learns the value of chasing a dream, but it doesn't end with some nonsense where she suddenly becomes a fabulously successful artist or something cheesy like that. The Little Prince juxtaposes its great fantasy sequences with the quiet hopefulness of banal routine. Its big, happy ending is simply that the girl realizes she can both work hard and find her own path in life, and that's all you really need to know to be happy.
I'm glad to have seen this one. I'll have to keep it on a list of movies to re-watch with my kids when they're older.
My Score: 4.5 / 5
The changing animation styles are fascinating and everything about the visuals is fantastic - the set design, the character design, etc. Plus, I'm kind of a sucker for movies about chasing your dreams, so I dug the fantastical parts of it. My only real complaint is that they laid it on a little too thick sometimes, and that could come off as grating. (There is a scene where the main character literally has to free all the stars in the universe from a prison - pretty hard to work that metaphor into a movie without a sledgehammer.)
How Did Lulabelle (21 months old) React?
With the exception of a select few scenes, she did not care about this movie. She basically gave up on it after ten minutes and started watching Sesame Street videos on her Kindle. I think she liked all the flashbacks to the little prince.
How Did Sonja (3 months old) React?
She slept through it, except for when she was hungry.
How Did Stephanie (My Wife) React?
She was struggling to maintain composure from start to finish, so she was pretty quiet. I think she liked it, though.
Any Useful Ethical, Educational, or Thematic Content?
Tons, if your kids are at the right age for it. The main arc is about growing comfortable with your dreams and aspirations, which is a noble message in its own right, but then they add on supplementary messages about death, friendship, and disappointment. There are a lot of beautiful metaphors in here that would serve as a good foundation to have a talk with your kids about their future, when you get to that point.
Trigger Warnings / Egregious Offenses?
None that I can think of. Unless you're one of those parents that has already decided your kids' future for them, in which case you'll probably hate this movie and think it's hippie liberal bullcrap.
How Likely Are You to Cry In Front of Your Kids?
Better than even odds. Unless you a) are currently living your dream with no regrets, and b) have not recently had to deal with a death in the family OR say goodbye to any close friends, you'll probably get repeatedly gut-punched by the heavy matter in the third act. I was misty-eyed for all of it, and if Lulabelle hadn't started asking for snacks to break it up, I'd probably have crossed the edge. So, let's say 80%.
How Likely Are You to Be Annoyed?
10%, unless you're a cranky old bastard, I guess.
Final Weighted Score: Varies by age.
It's not really fair to weigh a newborn's and a barely-two-year-old's opinion on this one too heavily since the movie's clearly meant for an older audience. So, I'm not going to bring the final score down too much. That being said, I have a suspicion that there's a narrow age window for this one to hit home. I'm sure kids outside that window would follow along for the most part, and they would probably enjoy some of the animation, but so much of The Little Prince is about managing the scariness of growing up, particularly when you're transitioning from total carefree childhood to adolescence. So, I'm going to guess the scale works like this:
2 / 5 for kids 0 - 6
3 / 5 for kids 6 - 8
4 / 5 for kids 8 - 11
1 / 5 for kids 11 - 25 who are too cool to feel things
4 or 5 / 5 when your soul comes back