Movie Mom

Movie Mom

City of Ember

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild peril and some thematic elements.
Violence/Scariness:Characters in peril, some intense action, scary monster, characters injured and killed, sad deaths
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:October 10, 2008
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild peril and some thematic elements.
Profanity: None
Nudity/Sex: None
Alcohol/Drugs: None
Violence/Scariness: Characters in peril, some intense action, scary monster, characters injured and killed, sad deaths
Diversity Issues: None
Movie Release Date: October 10, 2008

Under the earth’s surface for so long they have forgotten how and why they got there and even that there is another place to be, the citizens of the City of Ember have just about lost their sense of hope, of wonder, of imagination, and adventure. On “assignment day” kids pick their careers out of a hat. The idea of special interest, curiosity, or competence never comes up. And neither does the idea of creating or improving anything. All of the jobs that occupy the time of the citizens of Ember are about maintenance. All of the clothes, all of the infrastructure, everything is made from broken pieces of other things. Decay and breakdown pervade everything. Learning, reading, and creating, are ideas that have just about disappeared.


There is a genial but disengaged mayor (Bill Murray). Everyone seems to accept everything the way it is except for two kids, Lena (Saoirse Ronan), who lives with her dotty grandmother and little sister, and Doon (Harry Treadaway). Together, they race to solve the mystery of how their city was created before it becomes uninhabitable.

An almost Junior Great Books version of Brazil, this is a gorgeously imagined and visually sumptuous but still bleak and dystopic vision. In most stories featuring young lead characters, at some point they consult with a wise older person or get help from an adult. But here all of the other characters, the adults and even Lena’s little sister all seem oddly passive and disconnected and the kids are on their own. It does not have the brightness and energy of many films for this age group, and that may take some getting used to for kids used to a lot of flash.


But like a good book, it rewards patience and thoughtful attention. As with Wall∙E, some audience members will complain that this film is a one-sided and thinly-veiled allegory about current controversies or that it promotes rebellion. But that a very superficial mis-reading of the movie’s message, which is about the much more important and much more fundamental importance of independent thinking and not being satisfied with the status quo. In a time where both candidates for President are competing to persuade voters which will be the most effective in bringing change, it is an important reminder that we can all find ways to make things better.

  • Anonymous

    Why the dark blue background and black text?

  • Nell Minow

    Sorry about that! It is a system-wide problem stemming from our redesign and should be fixed by tomorrow.

Previous Posts

Independent Spirit Nominees 2015
The Spirit Awards are like the Oscars for independent films. Some of them have big stars and some are distributed by big studios. Some are made by first-time filmmakers on budgets that would barely pay for one day's catering fees on a studio ...

posted 7:49:50pm Nov. 24, 2015 | read full post »

The most romantic movie of the year is "Carol," based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, the author of Strangers on a Train and The ...

posted 5:54:13pm Nov. 24, 2015 | read full post »

The Good Dinosaur
"The Good Dinosaur" is the good movie. Not the great movie. Not the especially memorable movie. Just the perfectly nice and pleasant movie, much ...

posted 5:43:47pm Nov. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Rocky had to find the eye of the tiger. When we first met him back in 1976, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) was an amiable, ...

posted 5:18:44pm Nov. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Is "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever" the Worst Movie of All Time?
It was a lot of fun to talk to Libby Coleman about "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever." In an article for Ozy, Coleman says that by one standard it is the worst film of all time (or at least since the internet began keeping track) -- it has 115 negative ...

posted 10:29:10am Nov. 24, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.