Is the new Disney animated film ok for children? Raya and the Last Dragon Movie Review | Safe for Kids?, an honest parent guide to the Walt Disney Animation Studios release. No spoilers! #RayaandtheLastDragon #DisneyRaya May contain commissioned links.
Raya and the Last Dragon Movie Review | Safe for Kids?
The first Walt Disney Animated Studios feature in theaters since 2019. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
I have to admit that I’m NOT mad about the surge of Asian films in the past few years. Abominable. Live-action Mulan. And now Raya and the Last Dragon. But as a true blockbuster spring release for this Disney animated film, does Raya live up to the hype as a celebration of Southeast Asian culture? Or is it too much of a culture shock?
In this Raya and the Last Dragon Movie Review | Safe for Kids?, I’m talking visuals, the story, a full MPAA rating breakdown of the PG rating explanation and breakdown, and what kids’ age recommendation is suggested for this film. In this no spoiler parent review, we’re going to talk honestly about whether it’s worth paying the $29.99 to watch this long awaited release on Disney+ with Premier Access (or seeing in theaters).
As always, Disney knocks it out of the park on visual effects. But can we give huge praise to the team for having to create, edit and produce a fully animated film during a pandemic? Perfected in the homes of over 400 animators, the CGI and animation technology featured in Raya and the Last Dragon is truly spectacular.
More than just the gorgeous landscapes of ancient Southeast Asia or the gorgeous vibrant colors of the inspired costuming, I was in awe of the way that the minute details like Asian skin was highlighted. From the tone and texture to the shine and glow – Raya and the main characters did not have that fake yellow skin, but a better representation of olive skin tone.
If Moana, Tangled, Mulan, Abominable and Big Hero 6 had a child…you’d get Raya and the Last Dragon. Dude, I know that’s a crazy metaphor. But stay with me. This fantasy adventure story follows a warrior, Raya, a girl who’s not necessarily a princess, but she is a daughter of a chief (sound familiar?) in a world where humans and dragons live together. On a quest to find the last dragon to save the world, Raya learns that it takes more than magic to heal a broken land overcome with evil.
And in a currently broken world, (hello, pandemic, hot political climate, injustice. Yup, still here.) Raya and the Last Dragon is relatable on so many levels. The coming together of humanity, the healing and forgiveness of old wounds and building trust in people is something that hits so poignantly today. Restoring faith in humanity – the lesson hits home, and in Disney “lump in the throat” kind of way.
I’m not crying. You are.
*Blows nose.* Ok, so back to that crazy movie metaphor. Raya and the Last Dragon, as far as story goes is hard to pin down. The story is truly action-packed, fast-paced, witty and full of adorable sidekicks (animal and human) that everyone in the family can gravitate towards. While I personally missed having some amazing Disney sing-a-long songs, this film has the fierceness of Moana, the ruffian-filled action of Tangled, the essence of Mulan, the sweetness of Abominable and the heart of Baymax. There, I said it. Fight me on this.
Featuring gorgeous Southeast Asian culture influences (can I get an amen for more Asian representation in film?), we are immersed in a vibrant story filled with stunning architecture, landscapes, food, clothing and people at the heart of this film. The star studded Asian voice cast is incredible too: Kelly Marie Tran (“Raya”), Awkwafina (“Sisu”), Gemma Chan (“Namaari”), Daniel Dae Kim (“Chief Benja”), Sandra Oh (“Virana”) and Benedict Wong (“Tong”) all portray their characters well. While I cannot speak on behalf of all of Southeast Asia, I found the symbolism of this film: honor, respect, family, trust, forgiveness, and self-sacrifice truly admirable.
That PG Rating Explained
Is Raya and the Last Dragon kid friendly and ok for kids to see? The latest Disney animated film has been rated PG for “some violence, action and thematic elements.” But does this PG age rating mean that is Raya and the Last Dragon safe for kids to see?
You know how I feel about PG ratings especially. It’s no secret that I am highly skeptical of all child age ratings (um hello, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker not disclosing any language??). With MPAA ratings unpredictable these days, PG rating oscillating between Incredibles 2 intense and Christopher Robin calm, having fully disclosed parent guidelines can be super helpful in determining if a movie is safe for your whole family to watch – and worth paying the extra $29.99 to see for Premier Access. Is this Raya and the Last Dragon Movie Review | Safe for Kids? Here’s what parents should look out for:
Language. Hallelujah! I’ve never been so happy to see a Disney movie untarnished by swear words. There is a counted ZERO language references in this animated film. Thankfully, no crude rumor or awkward punchlines to worry about either. There is one reference of the phrase “butt kick-ery” in a “let’s go beat the bad guys” kind of way. But that’s about as deep as the bad language goes.
Adult Themes. Hooray for this section of the movie review as well! Grief and rage are briefly touched on in this film, as well as quickly seesaw-ing human emotions. But even in this coming of age story, Raya and the Last Dragon keeps it Disney classy with a strong Asian female lead, even classier than some of the Disney Princess films, if you know what I mean.
Violence. This is a fantasy world filled with tribes of people. They all have ancient weapons of some sort (fancy swords, sticks and crossbows) and are skilled in martial arts. Dragon magic also exists. There are lots of action sequences featuring cartoon violence – hand-to-hand combat, sword fighting, and the arrows shot at people and animals. No blood or gore is seen.
The evil “bad guys” of the movie would be comparable to hovering dark clouds – some intense smoke/mist, lightning and sounds that resemble soft banshee screaming occur. (Think Taka from Moana.) This may be intense for little kids to watch as the evil interacts with people throughout the film. I would compare the violence and suspense easily to that of Moana, Tangled, or the animated Mulan. Very easily digestible for little kids. So if your kids can handle that level of violence intensity, they should be fine to watch Raya.
What Raya and the Last Dragon Age Rating Is Recommended for Children?
How old should kids be to watch Raya and the Last Dragon? Is it too violent for young kids? Although Raya and the Last Dragon movie has a PG age rating attached to it, I found this film very mild for the PG range. So if your kids can easily watch movies like Moana, Mulan and Big Hero 6, then they would enjoy the fast-paced action of Raya.
Even at 1 hour and 47 minutes long, the pacing of the movie is very action-heavy and engaging for younger kids, with lots of humor and adorable animals too. I would recommend Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon movie for kids aged 4-years and up, closer to the rated G scale of PG than the Incredibles 2 rating of PG.
Is It Worth Paying $29.99 for Premier Access on Disney+?
Is it worth paying $29.99 to watch Raya and the Last Dragon on Disney+ with Premier Access? Or should you wait until June 4, 2021, when all Disney+ members will have access? In a time of increased violence and racial injustice towards Asian people, I don’t find it a coincidence of the timing of this movie release. Asian communities, the Asian entertainment industry, Asian people are hurting, and need our help more than ever to overcome the hatred in our world. Raya and the Last Dragon is a bridge of hope in a season of division. If just one person can feel, empathize and connect with this film’s story and characters, it one step closer to unity for all oppressed people.
Besides a unique story, strong characters, beautiful imagery, and deep messaging, let me again emphasize that this animated film was created in over 400 homes of animators, artists and filmmakers, many of them Asian. With increasing yet still underrepresented diversity in film, the $29.99 to watch this film in the comforts of your home is paying to keep the Asian entertainment industry alive, to keep the stories of Asian people at the forefront. Your $29.99 is one small way to show love and support for Asian people during these difficult days, and providing hope.
And if that wasn’t enough to convince you to see Raya and the Last Dragon, there’s finally a Disney Short too! “Us Again” is a wonderful almost 7-minute long short featuring music, dance and of course, those Disney feels. Be sure to stay for the pre-credits, with some fun animated snapshots of the characters.
Raya and the Last Dragon holds it’s own. After watching and re-watching the film a few times, I keep finding more reasons to love this Disney animated film as a strong stand-alone. Strong characters, strong message, strong story. While not quite Tangled or Moana level for me, I daresay Raya may rival Frozen (sorry, Elsa). But, I’m also Asian and 1000% biased. So…take that with a grain of rice.
If any movie can restore faith in humanity again, this is it. It’s a heartfelt, rare gem of a movie. No dragon magic required.
Follow Raya and the Last Dragon on social:
- Website: https://movies.disney.com/raya-and-the-last-dragon/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rayaandthelastdragon
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/DisneyRaya
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/disneyraya/
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The all-new original movie Raya and the Last Dragon will be released on Friday March 5, 2021, in theaters and streaming on Disney+ with Premier Access. Will your family be watching?
I was invited to screen this film in exchange for this Raya and the Last Dragon Movie Review | Safe for Kids? All photos courtesy of Disney. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube for more movie updates, celebrity interviews, entertainment and behind-the-scenes info!
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