Story

Emma Wishbone (Emily Watson) is down on her luck: her husband Frank (Nick Frost) is always working or sleeping, her daughter Fay (Jessica Brown Findlay) is struggling through the difficulties of adolescence, her son Max (Ethan Rouse) is getting bullied at school, and her bookstore is in debt. Emma can’t even walk down the street without encountering a series of unfortunate events. She accidentally makes a call to Dracula (Jason Isaacs), who instantly falls in love with her and decides to make her his vampire bride. Dracula bribes an ancient witch, Baba Yaga (Catherine Tate), to transform Emma but the witch accidentally transforms the whole Wishbone family into monsters.

The Wishbones set off to find Baba Yaga in the hope that she’ll transform them back. But they end up banished to the Egyptian desert and more alone than they’ve ever been before. To save not only each other but also the world, they must face their fears, find their inner strength, and learn to love and accept themselves.

Themes

Family breakdown; bullying; the supernatural

Violence

Monster Family has some violence. For example:

  • Dracula repeatedly grabs and hits his three little bats, and throws them around.
  • Max has his head plunged down a dirty toilet by a classmate. He begs the boy to stop. It looks there’s diarrhoea splashed around the edge of the toilet bowl.
  • Fay kicks and punches her brother during an argument. She then pushes him down the stairs.
  • The Wishbone family is thrown off a stage into a back alley.
  • Emma fights Baba Yaga while trying to convince her to change them all back into their human form. The two women slam, punch, grab, hit, fall over and crash into each other as Emma tries to catch Baba Yaga and the witch tries to escape.
  • Fay hypnotises some nasty models who make insulting comments about her. After being hypnotised, the models believe they’re monkeys who are fighting for a banana.
  • Baba Yaga and the family fight over an amulet before Baba Yaga banishes the family to the deserts of Egypt.
  • Dracula throws Emma out of his plane after she refuses to marry him.
  • Emma gets really thirsty and wants to drink fresh blood. Before she can stop herself, she nearly kills a man on a plane, a couple in the desert and her own husband.
  • An Egyptian mummy falls for Fay and transforms into a huge beetle. It attacks Fay and her brother before Frank stops it.
  • The family works together to kill Dracula before he kills them all. Eventually they burn him with sunlight.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Monster Family has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • The family members are transformed into a vampire, Frankenstein, a mummy and a werewolf. They’re all horrified by what has happened.
  • The boy that bullies Max at school is playing alone on a basketball court at night when werewolf Max decides to scare him. He hides in the bushes making horrible sounds and then pretends to attack while the boy runs away in terror.

From 5-8
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Monster Family has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example, the family has a fight in the desert and both children leave, going their separate ways. Emma turns on Frank and orders him away. Both parents are sad, and the children are angry.

From 8-13
Younger children in this age group might be worried by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Monster Family has some sexual references, including when Dracula talks about Emma being ‘his’ forever, despite the fact that she’s already married.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Monster Family shows some use of substances, including when Dracula feeds Emma pills that work almost instantaneously to curb her thirst for blood. Hoping that she’ll kill her family, Dracula makes Emma take another pill, which makes her thirst for blood again.

Nudity and sexual activity

Monster Family shows some partial nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Vampire Emma wears extremely low riding pants that expose her bare midriff.
  • A group of bikini-clad models hang all over Frank after he rescues them from being stuck in the desert. Their chaperone, also scantily clad, approaches them, telling them that she, ‘will take it from here girls’. The camera angle is shot from behind her bare legs.
  • Dracula repeatedly tries to kiss Emma.

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Coarse language

Monster Family has some coarse language and name-calling.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Monster Family is a predictable animated adventure about a dysfunctional family, the members of which are transformed into stereotyped horror movie monsters.

The movie is aimed at young audiences, but it isn’t recommended for children under seven years because of its violence, disturbing themes and physical transformations, which might be scary for young children. We also recommend parental guidance for children aged 7-10 years.

The main messages from this movie are that the power of love is far stronger than the power of evil, that each of us is braver than we think, and that beauty comes from within. We don’t need others to tell us that we’re beautiful because beauty is about how we see ourselves, not how others see us.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include loyalty, devotion, self-belief, determination and helpfulness.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the following:

  • Pills: Emma takes pills from Dracula and while they help her, this probably wouldn’t be the case in real life.
  • Bullying: Max is severely bullied not only by peers but also by his sister, but the movie doesn’t show the real consequences of this. It’s important for children to realise that they have a voice and the power to speak out against bullying.