Kleks Academy parents guide

Kleks Academy Parent Guide

The atmosphere is suitably magical but the pacing is uneven and characters are poorly developed.

Overall C

Netflix: In search of her missing father, a young girl accepts an invitation to attend a magical academy run by the eccentric and mysterious Mr. Kleks.

Release date June 19, 2024

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

Why is Kleks Academy rated TV-PG? The MPAA rated Kleks Academy TV-PG for fear and violence.

Run Time: 126 minutes

Parent Movie Review

On her twelfth birthday, Ada Contrary (Antonina Litwiniak) doesn’t have the surprise party she expects. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t surprised….

As she mopes in her apartment, a bird-man named Matthew (Sebastian Stankiewicz) appears on her fire escape and informs her that she has been selected to attend Kleks Academy, a school for children with big imaginations and unusual abilities. Ada remains unconvinced until the messenger tells her that polishing her skills will help her find her father, who has been missing for several years. This promise sells the offer, and Ada soon finds herself in a magical school, surrounded by acres of red-colored forests which contain doors into fairy tale worlds.

Initially leery, Ada soon throws herself into learning how to express her imagination and develop her innate gift for empathy. The only question is whether or not she’ll be able to learn fast enough. For Matthew is being sought by a group of human-wolf hybrids, unimaginatively referred to as wolfurs, who are seeking vengeance for a long-ago death – and they are willing to destroy whoever stands in their way.

Fantasy movies rely heavily on their sets and visual design and Kleks Academy is fortunate in this regard. The production clearly lacks a Hollywood blockbuster budget, but the sets effectively create a fantasy world with lush red trees, islands floating in the sky, thoughts that turn into glowing butterflies, and a fountain that gives people the ability to understand all languages. There are some wondrous moments in the film, and that’s critical for a tale that’s trying to be magical.

What the film lacks is the ability to tell a consistently enjoyable story. One of the mysteries of Kleks Academy is how a film with such a long runtime is unable to fully flesh out its characters. Ada gets a backstory and a personality, but the other students are simple one-note ciphers - karate girl, comedian girl, wannabe magician boy. Most annoyingly, Ada’s behavior often seems to be random; not arising organically out of the story but shoehorned into the script. I haven’t read the Polish books on which the movie is based so I can’t tell if the screenwriters are desperately trying to squeeze well known incidents from the books into the movie or if they are simply inexperienced. Most glaringly of all, a major plot thread is left unresolved – I assume to make room for a sequel. (I wouldn’t hold your breath on that.)

On the plus side, the movie’s negative content is limited to violence, which is more intense than expected for a TV-PG rating. There are several scenes of sanitized violence but one involves brief torture of a child and another is an extended scene where a child dies by drowning. This is not a movie for little kids or those who are easily frightened.

If you think the production’s imaginative world makes it worth slogging through the rest of the film, there are some positive messages for young viewers. The story leans heavily on the importance of confidence, loyalty, empathy, kindness, and peacemaking. It urges viewers away from prejudice, stereotyping, violence, and vengeance narratives. If you’re really lucky, it might help squabbling siblings realize that there are other ways to settle disputes. But I wouldn’t count on that either…

Directed by Maciej Kawulski. Starring Antonina Litwiniak, Agnieszka Grochowska, Danuta Stenka. Running time: 126 minutes. Theatrical release June 19, 2024. Updated

Watch the trailer for Kleks Academy

Kleks Academy
Rating & Content Info

Why is Kleks Academy rated TV-PG? Kleks Academy is rated TV-PG by the MPAA for fear and violence.

Violence:   There are frequent scenes of violence. A flashback shows a person killing someone in self defence. There is an extended scene of a child’s death by drowning. A child is briefly tortured. A child is forced to harm someone against his will. A child kicks an enemy and knocks them over.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: A derogatory term is used for a large person.
Alcohol / Drug Use:   None noted.

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Kleks Academy Parents' Guide

What do you think has happened to Ada’s father? How do you think developing her gift will help her find him?

Why is Ada able to convince the wolfur prince to end the conflict? Have you ever tried to understand and empathize with someone you disagreed with? Has anyone ever done that for you? How do you think you can develop the quality of empathy?

Loved this movie? Try these books…

This movie is based on a classic Polish children’s book, Mr. Inkblot’s Academy, by Jan Brzechwa.

For more books about schools of magic, once again, the obvious starting place is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone outside the US). Kids who want the same wizard vibes but with a bit less tension can try Jane Yolen’s classic Wizard’s Hall.

Teenagers can try Soman Chainani’s series, beginning with The School for Good and Evil, which has also been adapted into a Netflix film.

Younger readers will find intrigue but no gore in Shannon Hale’s Ever After High series, in which the children of fairytale characters prepare for their fantasy worlds. The series begins with The Storybook of Legends.

Middle school readers will get a kick out of The XYZs of Being Wicked by Lara Chapman. This tale’s protagonist is headed for the Dowling Academy School of Witchcraft, wherein she will have to make some choices about what kind of person she wants to be.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Of course the classic film series about a magical school begins with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone outside of the USA).

A much better Netflix movie featuring students with magical powers is The School of Good and Evil. It has a more compelling story but is also more violent and is geared at teens; not children.

Sky High takes a light-hearted look at the challenges of educating kids whose unusual powers make them superheroes – or sidekicks.

In Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the unusually gifted students are being stalked by monstrous beasts who are seeking to destroy them.

If you are looking for a story about a magical school that’s safe for elementary school-aged kids, you can go for Upside-Down Magic.