Is The Nutcracker Movie Scary for Kids?

I saw an advance screening of Disney’s new The Nutcracker movie, which opens in theaters November 2. Based on the movie trailers, I was wondering like many of you — is The Nutcracker movie scary for kids? Since I was a bit concerned about the fear factor, I opted to take one of my older daughters, an 11 year old, to check it out. In this post I will share some movie comparisons to help you predict is The Nutcracker movie scary to your kids. Also be sure to scroll to the end of this post to get my free printable Nutcracker Coloring Pages pack.

The Nutcracker Movie Scary for Kids? Read a Mom's Movie Review @PagingSupermom

The Nutcracker Movie Scary for Kids? Read a Mom's Movie Review @PagingSupermom
In Disney’s The Nutcracker movie, Clara (shown right) leads an army into the Fourth Realm with the brave Nutcracker Captain by her side.

Three of my four kids dance in Phoenix Ballet’s The Nutcracker, so naturally they have all been excited to see Disney’s new The Nutcracker movie. The good news, I liked the movie enough that I am planning to take my family back to see it. Although I had to contemplate if my five-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter would think The Nutcracker movie is too scary. There are definitely some intense parts, so I’ll do my best to give you some movie equivalents to help you decide if your kiddos can handle it as well.

The official title of Disney’s Nutcracker movie is “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” because we follow the main character, Clara, into a magical world called the Four Realms, which reminds me a lot of Narnia actually. I mean, just look at it…

The Nutcracker Movie Scary for Kids? Read a Mom's Movie Review @PagingSupermom

The Nutcracker Movie Scary for Kids? Read a Mom's Movie Review @PagingSupermom
Clara enters the Four Realms in Disney’s The Nutcracker movie, which reminds me of Narnia.

The Nutcracker Movie Scary as…

So there is comparison number one, The Chronicles of Narnia. If your kids can handle the Narnia movies, then they can definitely handle The Nutcracker movie scary factor. In fact, The Nutcracker movie is actually less dark in a lot of ways than the Narnia chronicles. When I was trying to explain to my husband what I meant by “dark,” another useful comparison came up. Thinking of The Wizard of Oz, there are some intense and scary characters, but there are also incredibly colorful and cheerful characters that balance it out. You can expect the same thing from The Nutcracker movie.

The Nutcracker Movie Scary for Kids? - These Cheerful Characters help keep the film from being too dark. Read a Mom's Movie Review @PagingSupermom
Although there are some dark and scary characters in Disney’s The Nutcracker movie, there are also vibrant and colorful characters that lighten the mood.

The Nutcracker movie scariest parts involve forays into the forbidden Fourth Realm where we encounter a creepy Mother Ginger and the Mouse King, which is a giant cluster of thousands of small mice altogether taking the form of a giant mouse monster… ew!

I’m pretty sure if you’ve seen Disney’s recent live action Beauty and the Beast, you’ll be able to draw comparisons to this movie as well. Just like Beauty and the Beast, this film is visually breathtaking.  Actually I would say that The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is more mesmerizing. From the beginning, even before Clara enters the imaginary realms, the viewer is swept away into a delightfully captivating victorian London, filled with elaborate sets, gorgeous costumes and digital enhancements that make it nearly impossible to tear your eyes away from the screen. The film’s incredibly detailed imagery also means scary scenes are intensified. Yet if your little one can handle Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast then I think they will be able to enjoy The Nutcracker as well.

The Nutcracker is Missing

My main beef with this film is a bit ironic — I actually really missed the Nutcracker element in the movie. For those of us familiar with the traditional Nutcracker story, Clara receives a Nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve — a gift from her eccentric, inventor Uncle Drosselmeyer. That night as Clara dreams, the Nutcracker comes to life and the pair go on a fantastical adventure.

The Nutcracker Movie Scary for Kids? Read a Mom's Movie Review @PagingSupermom

In Disney’s version though, Drosselmeyer does not give Clara a Nutcracker, but instead his gift is a special gold key. Of course Disney always takes liberties with classic storylines, and I have no problem with that approach. However, this particular change makes it really hard to see the connection that is supposed to exist between Clara and the Captain/Nutcracker who she meets inside the realms.

It took nearly half of the movie to grasp that the “Captain” character was supposed to be Clara’s Nutcracker.

Since traditionally The Nutcracker is a ballet with no dialogue, there were plenty of blanks for Disney to fill in; so I really don’t get why they chose to mess around with such a critical plot point.  I think it proved to be a big mistake. It took nearly half of the movie for me to grasp that the “Captain” character was supposed to be Clara’s Nutcracker, and my daughter didn’t totally make the connection until we talked about it afterward. I’d be willing to bet that you will leave the film calling him “Captain” and wonder why in the world the show was even called “The Nutcracker.” It’s a beautiful, well-told story, it’s just hard for me to see it as “The Nutcracker.”

I am frankly quite surprised that Disney’s incredible group of writers couldn’t figure out a better way for Clara to get the all-important key, without messing around with the Nutcracker gift. Seriously it would have been such a small, easy fix. The movie is called THE NUTCRACKER for heaven sakes, but they got the Nutcracker part ALL WRONG. Crazy, right?!

Is it still a good movie? Yes!

Will your kid’s love it? Absolutely!

Is the Nutcracker Movie scary for kids? Maybe… if your kiddos are under five, hopefully the movie comparisons I provided above will help you figure out the best answer for your crew.

Free Nutcracker Coloring Pages

I’ve got a pack of 15 official Disney Nutcracker coloring pages and activity sheets that my kids are already clamoring for. Download this set of free Nutcracker coloring pages using the form below.


Nutcracker Coloring Pages - download this free 15-page printable pack from @PagingSupermom