Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a prequel to the Harry Potter movies, but it’s a more adult-focused movie. Set in the 1930s, the story is about Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a British wizard with a passion for magical beasts and the creator of famous Hogwarts textbook Care of Magical Creatures. Scamander visits New York with his suitcase full of magical beasts. When one of the cute but cheeky creatures escapes and causes havoc, and Scamander misplaces his suitcase, New York is set for some magical fun.
New York city is already having trouble with a mysterious black and destructive force that’s destroying property and causing fear and mayhem in the no-maj (non-magical or Muggle) population. Scamander not only has to find his escaped beasts on the streets of New York, but he must also make sure that the black force doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Wizardry and the occult; extinction and conservation of animals; war and terrorism; domestic violence and abuse
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has many scenes of violence. For example:
- Characters use wands to fight people and cause harm.
- A young man (Credence, played by Ezra Miller) is whipped and beaten by his adoptive mother. This is only implied, but we also see scars and cuts on Credence’s hands.
- Property is destroyed and vandalised.
- A dark and demonic force causes the death of several characters, who appear withered and wrinkled after coming out of a black cloud.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- Although most of the magical creatures in this movie are very cute, some are quite monstrous. Some look very strange, and some bite or scratch.
- The destructive force is shown as a black, swirling and chaotic cloud that can damage buildings. It moves very fast and can cause death. People who’ve died because of it look withered and wrinkled.
- A woman adopts lots of orphan children who work for her. She treats them badly and they’re afraid of her. Her cruelty is implied rather than shown, but this is still likely to confuse and scare children in this age group.
- A large beast chases Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). Jacob escapes and is unharmed, but it’s a scary chase.
- When Credence transforms himself, it’s visually and emotionally scary.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- In some scenes, Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) manipulates and coerces Credence into being his spy. This is quite threatening.
- Credence has many emotional and psychological issues because of the extensive abuse he has suffered. Some children might find this disturbing.
Children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Younger children in this age group might like to discuss some of the movie’s themes with you.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has some sexual references. For example:
- Jake Kowalski and Queenie (Alison Sudol) flirt, share lingering looks and start a romance.
- Newt Scamander and Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) share lingering, romantic looks.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them shows some substance use. For example:
- Characters enter a bar and have some alcoholic drinks.
- Some characters smoke cigars.
Nudity and sexual activity
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, Queenie is shown wearing her nightgown and then dressing seductively. Kowalski watches, awestruck by Queenie’s beauty.
There is no product placement of concern in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but plenty of tie-in Harry Potter merchandise is marketed to children.
There is some coarse language in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a prequel to the Harry Potter series. It’s a visually spectacular fantasy movie that teenagers and their parents are likely to enjoy.
Although there are some dark themes in Fantastic Beasts, they’re treated lightly and there’s enough humour and fun to ensure the movie isn’t too intense. The characters are kind, strong and refreshingly unconventional. There are, however, some scary and violent scenes and disturbing themes. For these reasons, we don’t recommend this movie for children under 13 years. And we do recommend parental guidance for children aged 13-15 years.
The movie has important messages about:
- not using manipulation and threats to get people to do things for you
- not being prejudiced against people who are different from you
- showing empathy and kindness to people who need it most
- fighting hard to protect and conserve endangered animals.