Four Kids and It is inspired by the E. Nesbit novel Five Children and It, originally published in 1902. The movie steps us forward to the present, where two sets of siblings, who’ve never met each other before, are reluctantly forced to spend their holiday together. This is because their mother and father have started dating. The children are not at all happy about this arrangement.
On the beautiful Penzance cliff tops, the four children come across a little cave leading down to a beautiful sandy beach. Here they discover the mysterious and comical Psammead, a wish-granting sand fairy. The Psammead allows the children to ask for one wish each day, but the children must choose their wishes carefully, and the wishes always end at sunset.
As the children overcome their initial dislike of each other and accept their parents’ new relationship, they have some wild adventures, making wishes that get them into all sorts of scrapes and mischief. Meanwhile, the eccentric landowner next door becomes suspicious, and it turns out that he wants the Psammead all to himself.
Can the children save the Psammead from a terrible fate?
Family breakdown; divorce; blended families; magic; fantasy creatures; animal cruelty
Four Kids and It has some violence. For example:
- The two teenage girls have several physical fights, hitting and punching each other.
- One teenage girl is very angry about her mother and father separating. She expresses her feelings by smashing and damaging things and being aggressive.
- A man drags a girl by the ear into a room. He points a gun at her head at close range, and threatens her with it.
- A girl shoots lasers out of her fingertips and sets a man’s bottom on fire.
- The children are held at gunpoint against their will and escorted into a building.
- The Psammead is held captive in a glass cage, where he’s given electric shocks.
Four Kids and It has some sexual and romantic references. For example:
- Ros’s father and Smash’s mother kiss and stroke each other. They imply that they wish they could take it further. For example, they lie next to each other on a picnic rug and she says suggestively, ‘Maybe we should stay here and … ah …’.
- Ros’s father squeezes Smash’s mother’s bottom and they sink to the floor, hidden behind the kitchen counter. They giggle suggestively.
- When talking about why her father has left her mother to live with another woman, the five-year-old girls says, ‘Her tight 20-year-old tooshie reeled him in’.
- Ros asks Smash about how to get a boyfriend. She replies that you get their attention by hitting them on the arm. Ros tries this on the beach with a cute boy who’s surfing. The boy asks her to eat ice-cream with him, and they take lots of selfies together.
- The father and mother jokingly pick up some African masks and pretend to kiss each other with them on. The creepy neighbour comes in and says that he doesn’t want to interrupt their ‘ethnically insensitive erotica’.
- The eccentric neighbour makes a wish that grants him a ‘purple lady army’. This is a group of women with 1960s haircuts dressed in skin-tight purple jumpsuits. They carry laser guns.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Four Kids and It shows some use of substances. For example:
- Adults drink wine.
- The five-year-old girl tries to take a small bottle of alcohol from a mini-bar but an older girl stops her.
Nudity and sexual activity
Four Kids and It has some coarse language and name-calling, including ‘damn’, ‘butts’, ‘loser’ and ‘sucky’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Four Kids and It is an easy watch. It has some funny moments as well as lightly touching on sadder themes of parental separation. Psammead the sand-fairy is a little scary when he first appears, but he’s a great little animated monster with a friendly voice (the very recognisable voice of Michael Caine) and a kind heart. Russel Brand’s caricature of an English eccentric is totally over the top and silly, which many kids will love and find hilarious.
There isn’t a lot in Four Kids and It that will really scare children, but the scenes that show guns and people being held hostage make it a little too violent for children aged under eight years.
The main messages from Four Kids and It are that sometimes parents are better off separated than together and that it’s OK for your parents to start again with someone new.
Values and ideas in this movie that you could reinforce with their children include the following:
- It’s good to switch off technology and spend time with friends and family.
- It’s natural to be sad or angry if your parents separate from each other.
- Be careful what you wish for, because wishes are powerful.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the following:
- Anger management – for example, Smash is really upset about her mum and dad separating, and she expresses this by being aggressive, smashing things and behaving badly. Is there a better way to express anger?
- It can be really sad when your parents separate. Where can you get help in emotional situations? Who can you talk to about your feelings?
- Is it fair that the mother and father surprise their children with their ‘new relationship’ when they arrive at the house?
- What do you think about Smash’s suggestion that the best way to get a boy’s attention is to go up and hit him in the arm? Is violence a good way to start a friendship or relationship?