Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism

Posted on August 13, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements and brief language
Profanity: Brieg language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Peril, issues of parental death and abandonment, mean adults
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: August 14, 2015

Copyright ARC Entertainment 2015
Copyright ARC Entertainment 2015
“Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism” is a cute family fantasy, based on the series of books about a spunky orphan by Georgia Byng. Raffey Cassidy, the enchanting young star who was the highlight of “Tomorrowland,” is perfectly cast as the determined Molly Moon, who learns from an old book how to use hypnotism to get people to do what she wants. Cassidy’s clear blue eyes are so mesmerizing that it is easy to believe they can bewitch anyone.

Molly lives in a Little Orphan Annie/Oliver Twist-style terrible orphanage, presided over by mean Mrs. Adderstone (Lesley Manville), with the disgusting food prepared by a cook named Edna (Celia Imrie). In this brutal environment, Molly’s only friend is Rocky (Jadon Carnelly Morris), a gifted singer. Molly promises to be there for his performance but lets him down twice because she is so captivated by an old book about hypnotism she found in the library. She tries out what she learned first on Mrs. Adderstone’s fierce dog Petula, who becomes friendly and devoted. And then she goes to work on Edna, who suddenly starts preparing delicious, wholesome meals for the children. She tries to work out some adoptions that would keep her with Rocky, but, angry and hurt because she broke her promise, he goes off with the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Alabaster. Molly decides that what she needs is stardom. If she is rich and famous like pop star Davina (Tallulah Evans), she thinks she will be happy. She cannot sing or dance, but she does have the crucial skill — her ability to hypnotize extends not only to a television producer and a talk show host, but by the clever use of magnification, to almost everyone in the audience, not just in the theater where she is performing but those watching on television as well.

Meanwhile, someone else is trying to get the hypnotism book: a crook named Nockman (“Lord of the Rings'” Dominic Monaghan), spurred on by his crime queenpin mother (Joan Collins, as always, at her best playing bad). They want to use hypnotism for a big robbery. And if they can’t get there before a rival gang, maybe they can let them do the robbery and then rob them.

All of the performers, young and grown-up, are clearly enjoying themselves. Cassidy is one of the most appealing young actors in film, Emily Watson is very touching in a brief role as a sympathetic adult supervising the orphans, and Evans is excellent as a pint-sized diva. Director Christopher N. Rowley and director of photography Remi Adefarasin (“Match Point,” “Elizabeth”) keep the tone light and playful, enjoying the heightened fantasy elements of the story. It comes across like a fairy tale, with transformations and enchantments. And it is exceptionally understanding of the story’s villains. In order to hypnotize someone, Molly has to understand something about them. Even pretending to listen to them teaches her something about why acts that are inconsiderate or selfish are often based in hurt and fear. Molly herself is thoughtless and unfair at times. Like Spider-Man she has to learn that with great power comes great responsibility, and like Dorothy, she learns that there’s no place like home.

Parents should know that the film deals with parental loss and abandonment and with adults being cruel to children. They should also know that the film perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes of adoption, including the idea that prospective parents go to orphanages to pick out children as though they are buying groceries. There is some mild peril and brief language and crude humor.

Family discussion: Who would you like to hypnotize? Why didn’t Molly like being a pop star?

If you like this, try: the books by Georgia Byng

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6 Replies to “Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism”

  1. We loved Raffey in “Tomorrowland.” Peyton just watched this today on demand. He liked it a lot. The pieces I saw seemed a mix of “Annie” and “Matilda.”

      1. Yes, we make a list of upcoming movies that he hangs on the refrigerator and dutifully checks off. Every now and then we miss one because it’s not in the list on IMDB. We were glad you spotlighted this one. He really liked it a lot. We missed the books. Now, if I could just get my daughter to quit watching “Descendants” and try this one, we’d be in business!

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