Entertainment

'Latte & The Magic Waterstone' Should Be Your Next Family Movie Night

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We’ve largely aged out of cute animal movies in my house. My children are eight and ten and they are more into binge watching episodes of The Masked Singer or Lego Masters on Hulu than curling up to watch a full-length feature film about animated talking animals.

But it’s a pandemic, and their entertainment options are relatively limited, and when I asked them to watch Netflix’s Latte and the Magic Waterstone with me, they were easily convinced to pause the latest reality television baking show binge watch to curl up for a family movie night on the couch with their mom, a bowl of cheddar popcorn, and a generous supply of gummy bears. (I suspect the cheddar popcorn and gummy bears were a big part of the draw, but quality time is quality time, right?)

The movie begins with Latte, a young, family-less hedgehog, who has dreams of being special and brave. Latte doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the town, and the closest animal she has to a friend is Tjum, the squirrel—who, as far as friendships go, doesn’t win any awards, at least in the beginning of the movie.

Latte and Tjum live in a clearing and the land is in a severe drought. The only source of water for all the animals that live there is what’s been collected in a giant pumpkin. When that pumpkin breaks—thanks Latte and Tjum—Latte sets off on a mission to recover the magic water stone from a greedy bear. Legend says the waterstone can replenish the water supply. Tjum follows Latte in an effort to convince her to come back to the clearing.

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Their journey introduces them to a determined beaver, a hungry lynx, a psychic frog, a fiendish pack of wolves, and a group of dancing bears. Latte and Tjum learn the value of friendship as they finally find their stride and work together to retrieve the waterstone and bring water to everyone.

The movie is adorable and family friendly. The animation includes lots of bright colors and who doesn’t smile at the idea of a line of bear cubs learning to twirl in unison? Latte And the Magic Waterstone doesn’t quite go the distance it could and critics are largely unimpressed by the plot, which doesn’t take any risks, is overall fairly predictable, and misses the chance to teach kids the bigger lessons about bullying and conservation and societal structures—lessons that movies like Zootopia handle seamlessly. There are no standout jokes or laugh-out-loud scenes. But, you do get dancing bears, a cute, spunky hedgehog that rolls up into an adorable ball, a wild adventure, an unlikely friendship, and, most importantly, a happy ending.

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I was bothered by the number of threads left unresolved. What happened to Latte’s parents, and how did the bears get to keep their water supply when they lost the water stone, and what’s stopping the fiendish wolves from snapping up the waterstone for themselves once its been retrieved from the bears? I posed those questions to my ten year old, who reminded me, with all the maturity of a tween, that this is a movie for little kids, and maybe not the right time to dig too deep into plot holes. Fair enough.

I would add a small trigger warning for kids who have lost a parent, specifically a dad. The subplot that Latte is alone, and that her dad is gone, is referenced often. Latte looks up to the sky to speak to her dad, thanks him for sending her “signs” that he’s still with her, and even goes so far as to believe another hedgehog she runs into while on her journey to find the waterstone is her dad. So many children’s movies feature a missing or dead parent, so that’s not a reason to avoid the movie, but as a widowed mother with grieving children, I always appreciate the heads up on whether a film will trigger my kids or not.

Overall, as far as family movie nights during a pandemic go, Latte & the Magic Waterstone will definitely be your next family movie night. It’s sweet and cute and kind of perfect for a pandemic because it doesn’t require too much mental bandwidth to follow the plot, the kids will be entertained for a little over an hour, (one hour and 22 minutes to be specific), and it’s always nice to see the spunky loner save the day.

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