Terra Willy: Unexplored Planet Parent Guide
With its stunning visual design, exotic sets and bright colors, this movie is a joy to watch.
Parent Movie Review
Animated movies for children are often formulaic cash cows, with characters, scenes, and plot lines that are virtually interchangeable. They might entertain kids, who are famously unfussy media consumers, but they bore parents, who become captive audiences in the theater. When a different type of kids’ movie comes along, it’s worth celebrating.
Terra Willy: Unexplored Planet is something special in the world of children’s animation. Its uniqueness might be credited to the fact that it’s not a Hollywood production but comes from France. Viewers who are leery of “foreign” films can be reassured – the film has been released for the English-speaking market with animation that aligns the character’s faces with the English language dialogue. There are no awkward subtitles or moments where the dubbing feels incongruent.
What makes this movie stand out above the rest of the pack is its visual design. Terra Willy is a joy to watch. If you combine a Dr. Seuss-type imagination with the colors of a candy store and the capabilities of computer animation, you wind up with the vivid, out-of-this-world scenes that the youthful protagonist encounters. The story begins with bland, but finely detailed spaceship interiors.and then moves on to a rocky desert…but, wait, those aren’t rocks; they’re giant rock monsters. Willy then travels through numerous ecosystems on the planet, from hills covered with what looks like lavender, to fields of brilliant umbrella/tulip shaped flowers, to bleak landscapes with bubbling hot springs, to rain-forest like glades that are filled with fruits and flowers in extravagant colors, to sparkling rivers and streams and on to a sure-fire kid favorite – a natural water park. These settings are a visual feast and will ignite children’s imaginations. Don’t be surprised if your youngsters come home, grab their art supplies, and start drawing brightly colored, wildly designed alien worlds.
The rest of the movie lags behind the design but is still perfectly acceptable. The plot – a young boy is separated from his astronaut parents when an asteroid strike sends his escape pod to a distant planet – doesn’t come to any surprising conclusions. A happy ending is expected and the story delivers. But there are some surprises in the course of the tale and I was pleased that I couldn’t predict every event ahead of time. The adult voice acting is occasionally a bit stiff, but Landen Beattie gives Willy a youthful freshness and enthusiasm that is completely believable.
A big plus for the film is the minimal negative content it puts on the screen. The only issue for some children will be the film’s violence. Willy is separated from his parents by a meteor strike, which could upset sensitive little ones, especially when he grieves on the planet. But most of the issues involve Willy being chased by various alien monsters. There are some moments of peril, which could be frightening, but none of the violence in the film is graphic and it all furthers the plot.
Even better, Terra Willy comes with a cornucopia of positive messages that parents will want to embrace. The importance of family, the value of friendship and loyalty, the need to control impulsive urges – all are emphasized. Emotional resilience is a major theme of the film, with kids watching as Willy copes with the separation from his parents while also finding ways to solve problems, make friends, and find happiness and purpose in his new circumstances. One of his strategies is to continue his parents’ work as explorers so Willy industriously records the flora and fauna of his new planet. This celebration of education, knowledge, and science is another mark in the movie’s favor. Hopefully, Hollywood will decide that this type of children’s film-making is a world worth exploring and will produce more films of this quality.Directed by Eric Tosti. Starring Landen Beattie, Jason Anthony. Running time: 89 minutes. Theatrical release February 21, 2020. Updated March 5, 2020
Watch the trailer for Terra Willy: Unexplored Planet
Terra Willy: Unexplored Planet
Rating & Content Info
Why is Terra Willy: Unexplored Planet rated Not Rated? Terra Willy: Unexplored Planet is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: Asteroids strike a spaceship, resulting in breakage, explosions, and fire. A boy is separated from his parents during the strike. A young boy is repeatedly chased by a variety of monsters. There are numerous moments of peril, including when a boy falls into a cavern and when giant hail stones fall from the sky. A boy is briefly caught in quicksand. A boy is accidentally hit in the head with a grappling hook on a few occasions. A boy is accidentally poisoned and almost dies.
Sexual Content: A boy and an alien urinate off a cliff: they are seen from behind and the alien produces three streams of urine simultaneously.
Profanity: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A mother gives her husband and son an antidote when contact with a plant causes them to grow brightly colored hair. A boy is accidentally poisoned by a plant and is given an antidote by an alien.
Page last updated March 5, 2020
Terra Willy: Unexplored Planet Parents' Guide
Do you ever get scared when you’re away from your parents? What do you do to help yourself feel better? Willy gets busy exploring and recording the animals on his new planet. What can you focus on to keep busy and help yourself feel better when you’re away from home?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
If your youngster enjoys stories about space travel, they can really take off here.
Byron Barton’s I Want to Be an Astronaut brings his signature bright colors and spare graphic design to a simply worded book for very young children.
Margaret McNamara and Mark Fearing’s The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot repurposes the story of the three little pigs and substitutes three galactic traveling aliens.
A spunky chicken dreams of launching into space in Zelda’s Big Adventure. Written by Marie Alafaci and illustrated by Shane McG, this book features big laughs and bright colors. Kenneth Kraegel sends a mouse to space to find a cure for her ailing child in Wild Honey from the Moon.
Your elementary school aged reader will enjoy the beautiful illustrations and enchanting stories in Once Upon a Starry Night: A Book of Constellations. By Jacqueline Mitton and Christina Balit, this book maps out the constellations and tells the stories that go along with them.
Meghan McCarthy explains the nuts and bolts of space travel to preschoolers in her colorful and practical Astronaut Handbook.
Kids who want to imagine going to space themselves will want to read Joyce Lapin’s If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon. Ken Wilson-Max will light up their imaginations with Astro Girl.
Related home video titles:
If you’re trying to find films that are safe for preschoolers to watch, try Racetime. This sweet little story of kids trying to design and race on toboggan courses is just fine for young viewers.
Curious George takes kids on a gentle adventure with the inquisitive monkey and the Man with the Yellow Hat.
In Paddington, a little bear “from darkest Peru” winds up in London, far away from everyone and everything that’s familiar to him.
The Hundred Acre Wood is the site of numerous child-friendly productions. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh introduces young viewers to the “silly old bear” and all of his friends. Disney goes back to this “hunny pot” in subsequent adventures: Winnie the Pooh, Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, and Piglet’s Big Movie. Pooh’s human friend takes center stage in the live action film, Christopher Robin, in which he has grown up and forgotten his childhood friends – until Pooh comes looking for him. This is a movie that parents will likely enjoy as much as their kids.