The Inventor Parent Guide
This film is charming, entertaining, and packed full of information. It's also beautifully animated and deserves to be seen on a big screen.
Parent Movie Review
Leonardo da Vinci (Stephen Fry) has lofty goals: discover the source of the human soul and plan an ideal city. However, his patrons–Pope Leo X (Matt Berry) and French King Francis I (Gauthier Battoue) – have him stuck sketching plans for military weapons and statues. King Francis’ mother, the Duchess (Marion Cotillard) isn’t impressed with the new artist-in-residence, but her daughter Marguerite (Daisy Ridley) sees Leonardo’s genius.
This charming stop-motion film seems to do the impossible, weaving history, politics and existential questions into a story for children. My 10-year-old daughter and I were glued to the screen from start to finish. I never checked my phone, I hardly even shifted in my seat because my mind was spitting “how?” every three minutes.
“How did the puppets work?”
“How did they knit such tiny little mittens?”
“How much of this is pulled from actual history?”
“How did they make this work as a kid movie? How?!”
Back when I first discovered Wallace and Gromit in the 90s, I spent years watching everything Nick Park ever directed. I was secretly delighted every time I glimpsed a fingerprint in the clay of each character.
The Inventor was made with puppets, not clay, but there are fingerprints all over this film that speak to deep love for the source material, the storytelling medium, even the audience. The plot stays firmly in 16th century history but never lags, dipping into whimsy with 2D animation or a musical number.
The Inventor’s sly comedy is subtle but consistent, even smoothing out the sticky historical record of Leonardo’s secret study of the human body and his need for stolen cadavers. But it works, this entire impossible project works, thanks to the deft direction of Jim Capobianco (Ratatouille and Mary Poppins Returns).
If you can see this movie in the theater, do it. The music is excellent, the texture is wonderful (those teeny little mittens!) and if you watch closely, you’ll discover a smiley face hidden on the set. This movie is a delight, a bit of magic firmly rooted in the past.
Directed by Jim Capobianco and Pierre-Luc Granion.
Starring Stephen Fry, Daisy Ridley, Marion Cotillard, Matt Berry.
Running time: 100 minutes.
Theatrical release September 15, 2023.
Updated September 21, 2023
Watch the trailer for The Inventor
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Inventor rated PG? The Inventor is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic elements and nude art images
Violence: Sketches of equipment designed for war start moving: this includes a tank with guns and a chariot with scythes. There is a Grim Reaper who could be scary for children. There is a brief scene of dead bodies put on tables for research purposes.
Sexual Content: There are brief images of nude art.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated September 21, 2023
The Inventor Parents' Guide
Why did Pope Leo X decide against machines of war?
What did Marguerite think of Francis’s statue?
Two kings came to visit Francis I at his castle. What countries did they come from? What brought them there?
Kids can learn more about the real Leonardo da Vince here:
Ducksters.com: Leonardo da Vinci
Kiddle: Leonardo da Vinci facts for kids
His art can be seen here:
WikiArt: Leonardo da Vinci
You can learn about his inventions below:
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Beautifully illustrated, Leonardo: Beautiful Dreamer is a picture book biography of the man himself. Written and illustrated by Robert Byrd this is suitable for elementary school age readers.
For a fictional tale, kids who are reading early chapter books can try Monday with a Mad Genius. This is part of Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House Merlin Missions series.
Full of photos and illustrations, National Geographic’s Leonardo da Vinci is also replete with facts about the man who defined the Renaissance.
If it’s da Vinci’s art that grabs your child’s attention, you can give them broader exposure with The Life and Works of History’s Greatest Artists: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Pablo Picasso. This work is printed by Children’s Biography Books.
Kids who like to “do it myself” will appreciate the chance to try some of Leonardo’s inventions themselves. Grab a copy of Maxine Anderson’s Amazing Leonardo da Vince Inventions: You Can Build It Yourself. Jasper Bark’s The Inventions of Leonardo da Vinci comes with detailed illustrations and 3-D models.
Related home video titles:
For the best stop-motion animation, you can’t go wrong with Aardman Studios or a Laika Studios film.
Start with Nick Park’s magnum opus (in my opinion): the Wallace & Gromit short film The Wrong Trousers. The model train chase scene had me laughing into hysterics when I first saw it in 1998.
You can then follow up with a much funnier yet faithful homage to WWII film The Great Escape in Nick Park’s first full-length feature film, Chicken Run.
My favorite stop-motion from Laika Studios is Kubo and the Two Strings–electric storytelling, a bit of creepy vibes, and a story of ancestral protection. It’s just fabulous, but I recommend it more for older kids or tweens.