The Pitch

An orphaned girl goes to live in an old English manor. Like on that Downton Abbey the grownups like to go on about.

Content Advisories

Our protagonist starts out as a sullen, spoiled brat. At the start of the film Mary hides beneath a bed during an earthquake, but it ends quickly. The movie makes no attempt to keep younger children from falling asleep or wandering out of the room.

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Everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen

Mrs. Medlock, the anxious and severe housekeeper of Misselthwaite Manor, has no time for humor or wit, which is bit of a shame with Dame Maggie Smith in the role (She’s still great). Maidservant Martha’s accent may also have you thinking of the kitchens at Downton, but Misselthwaite is so much more imposing and lifeless and dark, a massive, empty husk that mirrors the state of the grieving Lord Craven. Director Agnieska Holland seems less interested in making a children's movie than in telling a story set among children, in a children’s place. With all of childhood’s confusions and tempers and joys, as well as its ignorance and magic. For kids raised on faster-paced fare it can be work to connect to, but for those who stick with it it can become an all-time favorite. —Chris Ereneta

Edited & designed by Chris Ereneta. Suggestions, feedback, and rants welcome at, @WatchWithKids, or on Facebook. More about this site.