Earwig and the Witch parents guide

Earwig and the Witch Parent Guide

An intriguing Cinderella-type tale, this movie comes with some cultural quirks that might discourage viewers.

Overall B

HBO Max: After spending ten years in an orphanage, Earwig is startled when a woman comes to adopt her. Then she discovers that Bella Yaga is a witch...

Release date February 5, 2021

Violence B
Sexual Content A-
Profanity A
Substance Use A-

Why is Earwig and the Witch rated PG? The MPAA rated Earwig and the Witch PG for some scary images and rude material.

Run Time: 82 minutes

Parent Movie Review

At the age of ten, Erica Whig (voice of Taylor Henderson) has no memory of the long-ago night when she was left on the doorstep of an children’s home. Just an infant, she was accompanied by a cassette tape labeled “Earwig” and a note that implied her mother (voice of Kacey Musgraves) was a witch. Since that time, the precocious orphan has so charmed the staff of the charitable institution that they answer to her every beck and call.

Therefore, it comes as a bit of a shock when she is sent to live with a foster family where she is the one expected to the bidding. And that is not the only problem with her new home. The odd couple that chose her turn out to be a Witch (voice of Vanessa Marshall) and a Mandrake (voice of Richard E. Grant). The house they reside in has rooms and doors that move or vanish. Escape is impossible. (And we, audience have the unsettled feeling she may have returned to the place her Mother was originally fleeing from.)

At first the young girl tries to make the best of the situation by accepting it as a challenge. Plus, she bargains with the blue-haired sorceress to trade hard labor for magic lessons. But as the ceaseless chores and nasty threats mount with no promise of compensation, the little Cinderella’s spirit changes to one of rebellion. Stealing a look in the witch’s spell book, she decides to give her wicked foster mother a taste of her own medicine.

Studio Ghibli, best known for its founder Hayao Miyazaki and his 2D anime, produced this 3D animation. This effort was directed by Miyazaki’s son Goro. Although Earwig and the Witch uses a different approach to creating its visuals, the movie still suffers from a challenge that has dogged both father and son: trying to turn a Japanese screenplay (written by Keiko Niwa and Emi Gunji) into something palatable for audiences used to consuming a Western style of storytelling. Even though this script is based on a book by British author Diana Wynne Jones, (Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle was adapted from another of her novels), it still struggles in translation. However, these musings may be the sort of thing only considered by foreign film fans.

For viewers just looking for something to share with the kids, this fantastical tale features a few frightening scenes, a mandrake that turns into a monster, the use of magic and the depiction of oppressive caregivers. These elements may make it unsuitable for youngsters. Yet the story also portrays an optimistic character that turns a sour world around with sweetness… although she does so in a manipulative way intended for her personal gain. Still, the biggest disappointment with Earwig and the Witch is that by the time the credits roll, it feels like you have watched the kickoff for a television series instead of having that sense of completion usually expected from a cinematic experience.

Directed by Gorô Miyazaki. Starring JB Blanc, Thomas Bromhead, and Alex Cartañá . Running time: 82 minutes. Theatrical release February 5, 2021. Updated

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Earwig and the Witch
Rating & Content Info

Why is Earwig and the Witch rated PG? Earwig and the Witch is rated PG by the MPAA for some scary images and rude material.

Violence: A woman abandons her child at an orphanage. Some characters are frightened by ghoulish comments and children dress up as ghosts. A car chases a character on a motorcycle – both drive recklessly. A character uses charm, rebellion and blame to manipulate others and get her own way. A child is imprisoned in a magical and very dirty house, where she is made to do excessive chores. Ingredients are shown for magical potions, like worms, snakeskin and rat bones. A voodoo doll and other magical enchantments are depicted – some are benign, others mean-spirited. An angered character turns into a giant burning monster and threatens others. Adult characters threaten a child and a cat. Other magical animals and creatures are depicted.
Sexual Content: A single mother is portrayed. A woman leans in to kiss a man – it is uncertain if it is a romantic gesture or an affectionate one. Characters are briefly seen in swimwear. Underwear is seen hanging from a clothesline.
Profanity: A character says serval phrases in a foreign language and claims some of the things he said were swear words. Some teasing and name-calling occur.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Magic spells and potions are concocted for various uses. Characters pull out a bottle of wine to have with dinner.

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Earwig and the Witch Parents' Guide

Erica Whig (aka Earwig) resents being shown off to perspective parents who come to visit the orphanage. She says, “Children are people not puppies – and they shouldn’t be put on display for viewing pleasure.” How do you feel about this statement? Have you ever felt like you were on display? Are there ever times when that might be good thing?

Mandrake claims, “Music is like magic. It can transport you to another world.” Do you agree?

What tactics does Earwig use to control the people in her life? Is this a desirable behavior?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Studio Ghibli adapted another of Diana Wynne Jones’ novels into the animation Howl’s Moving Castle. Other titles from this animation house include movies Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away.