Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

As you might expect, we meet a girl named Mary at the heart of this animated tale. She's a precocious youngster with too much hard-to-bridle energy, too much boring free time and, in her opinion, way too much red hair. In fact, even though Mary is really very sweet and always eager to help, the only thing people ultimately remember about her is the clumsy wreckage she leaves in her wake, and her explosion of frizzy and fiery hair.

Mary's been staying with her great-aunt Charlotte, a wonderful, loving woman, while her hard-working parents get settled into a new home. But they haven't had a chance to move anything but their daughter into town yet.

Before the school year starts, Mary is really, really, really bored. The only other kid she's even seen in the area is a boy named Peter, a boy who laughingly called her a red-haired monkey. So you know what Mary thinks of him.

While wandering in the nearby woods, though, Mary happens upon something that changes her situation. She finds a luminous blue flower that she soon learns is called a Fly by Night or a Witch's Flower. But it's more than just a pretty blossom with a creepy name: It does something to Mary.

Mary is certainly no witch, but the blue glowing goo from the plant gives her, well, powers. It enables her to fly on a broom, cast spells and even journey to a fantastic cloud-based academy for witches. It's a magical university nestled somewhere up in the clouds.

Soon after landing in that wondrous place, Mary meets Madam Mumblechook, the schoolmaster; and Doctor Dee, the gifted science-and-magic-blending professor. And they both think Mary is flat-out brilliant. They simply love her energy. They adore her eagerness and obvious magical skills. And they even think her red hair is amazing (not to mention a real magical asset).

It's all so overwhelming and very, very cool. And suddenly Mary starts thinking: She could get used to this.

Positive Elements

Mary may make mistakes from time to time, but she is a sincere, caring girl who desires to do the right thing. In fact, when Peter—who, as mentioned, Mary isn't sure she even likes—gets taken hostage, she quickly puts everything on the line to free him. She and Peter also go to great lengths to free a room full of animals that were being experimented upon.

And even though Mary doesn't think much of herself ("I'm absolute rubbish at everything," she says), those around the girl recognize her special attributes. Her great-aunt repeatedly voices her appreciation for her niece, despite some potential character flaws. "You're meant to look twice before you leap. She hardly looks at all," complains Mrs. Banks, her aunt's maid. "That's one of the things I love about her," Aunt Charlotte replies.

Elsewhere, an unnamed person steals the seeds for the Witch's Flower in order to keep the plant's powers away from those who would misuse it.

Spiritual Content

Obviously this is a movie about the use of witchcraft, and that spellcasting magic is used repeatedly. In the cases where spells are used, the caster simply touches the page of a spell book, and the desired action takes place in a wave of power. We never hear any verbal incantations.

The actual source of that magical power, as well as that of the Fly by Night flower, is never explained. All we know is that when that glowing flower is crushed, its goopy juice can imbue someone with a short-lived supply of magical ability.

The blooming flowers in the forest create a deep mist that envelops the wooded area and shoots out flashes of lightning-like energy. Doctor Dee uses similar energy to transform normal animals into semi-magical beasts. He experiments on Peter with the same procedure. Doctor Dee declares his belief that electricity is a form of magic and that chemistry is the same as potion-making. He also states, "Innocence has a catalytic effect on the absorption of magic," implying that unsullied children are the best conduits for his twisted experiments.

When Peter is enveloped in Doctor Dee's magical experiment, Madam Mumblechook fears that it is turning into another failure. But the Doctor looks at the winged figure that the boy is becoming and says, "This is no failure; it's rebirth."

When Mary gets to the magical school known as Endore University, she sees several demonstrations of witchcraft, including a class of students that disappears. She meets a fox-like character who talks. He notes the presence of a black cat that was swept up into the air with Mary when she was first empowered by the Witch's Flower, and he calls it her "familiar." (Since the Middle Ages, the occult term familiar has been used to describe spirit beings in animal forms who assist witches; that history, however, is not unpacked here beyond the use of the phrase itself.)

[Spoiler Warning] Eventually, Mary becomes convinced that magic is a corrupting power that's most often used in destructive ways. And she uses her own limited power to try and dismantle everything that Madam Mumblechook and Doctor Dee have done. When she's finished, she realizes that she still has a single bloom of the Fly by Night flower. She tosses it away saying, "I won't be needing this anymore."

Sexual Content


Violent Content

There are some perilous moments here, usually occurring when magic goes haywire or is misused. For instance, there are a couple of times when Mary's magic runs out and she falls from a great height, only to be saved at the last moment.

Madam Mumblechook uses her magic to destroy some things. And an experiment goes awry, sucking a boy up into a smothering, swirling mass of magical energy. Mary holds a crystal ball-like object and mentally conjures a whirlwind that picks up students and furniture in a classroom and tosses everything around the room.

Crude or Profane Language


Drug and Alcohol Content


Other Negative Elements

Mary is so overwhelmed by the positive encouragement she receives upon initially arriving at Endore College that she gets a bit swell-headed and starts bragging. When Mary's magical abilities accidentally open a secret partition, she steals a small book of spells. In order to force Mary to do her will, Headmistress Mumblechook kidnaps one of Mary's friends.


Based on the British children's book The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, this Japanese import features English voiceover work from the likes of Ruby Barnhill, Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent. And this hand-drawn pic packs the same whimsical feel as we've often seen with other animated Japanese offerings: It's colorful and lavishly animated, while broadly making light of its witch-and-her-familiar subject matter.

Some will surely look at this ride-a-broom frolic and see it as something of a Harry Potter-lite cartoon that makes magic and witchcraft seem like fanciful fun for kids. But it should be noted that there's something more here, too: Mixed in with all the magicking in this animated flick there's a very firm message about rejecting all that spellcasting stuff.

In the course of her save-a-friend adventure, Mary comes to realize that there are a number of thorns associated with the flowery magic that she's been given. In fact, all the things she initially thinks are so sweet eventually turn sour and dangerous. And when she has an opportunity to continue with a bit more supernatural fun by movie's end, she's ready to toss all that aside and get back to an abracadabra-free life.

That doesn't make for any deep lessons, by any stretch. But it could make this kid's pic a discussion starter and more than just another fly-by-night enchantment.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Voices of Ruby Barnhill as Mary; Kate Winslet as Madam Mumblechook; Jim Broadbent as Doctor Dee; Lynda Baron as Great-Aunt Charlotte; Ewen Bremner as Flanagan; Louis Ashbourne Serkis as Peter


Hiromasa Yonebayashi ( )





Record Label



In Theaters

January 19, 2018

On Video

May 1, 2018

Year Published



Bob Hoose

Content Caution

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!