A Monster Calls

Theatrical Release: January 6, 2017
DVD Release: March 28, 2017
A Monster Calls


The monster does not come walking often. This time it comes to Connor, and it asks for the one thing Connor cannot bring himself to do. Tell the truth. This is a very touching story about a boy who feels very damaged, guilty and mostly angry. He struggles at school with bullies, and pity looks from everyone, and at home with his mother’s sickness. Will Connor overcome his problems? Will everything be okay? Will Connor be able to speak the truth?

Dove Review

“A Monster Calls” deals with the issue of a loved one dying, but does so in a bizarre way. The movie is based on the novel by Patrick Ness. A “monster” tree (voiced by Liam Neeson) shows up every night at 12:07 a.m. to see Connor. At first it is difficult to figure out if the tree is a friend or foe. He definitely scares Connor (Lewis MacDougall), a young boy who is dealing with his mother Lizzie’s (Felicity Jones) sickness due to cancer. So, the first time Connor meets the tree he is terrified. At times the monster is seen in Connor’s nightmare, and at other times he seems to really be there. In addition, Connor must deal with the awkwardness he experiences with his grandmother, portrayed by Sigourney Weaver. They don’t have much in common except for Lizzie.

Connor’s dad, now living in America, comes home to see the boy as he knows how seriously ill his ex- wife is. The monster tells Connor three stories but adds that Connor has to tell the fourth story. The three stories the monster shares are all animated and each contain a twist. An area of concern for viewers of this film is that the monster encourages Connor to release his anger, but Connor does so in destructive ways. In one case, he destroys his grandmother’s beloved grandfather clock, not to mention some furniture, and he does so with a baseball bat. His dad tells him it is “okay” and he won’t be punished. In another scene, he has had enough of a bully and punches him repeatedly in the face until it is stated the kid wound up in the hospital.

Connor knows deep inside that his mother is not getting better, and the movie concludes with Connor telling his mother his feelings about her impending death. In one scene, she tries on wigs as she has lost a lot of hair due to chemotherapy. As stated, Connor knows she is seriously ill and how he deals with it is the main theme of the movie. The film contains a few touching scenes. However, due to the concerns we have about this dark movie, including such comments as “Complicated truth makes lies necessary,” and a step-grandmother wishing to marry the grandson so she would be queen, we regrettably are withholding our Dove Family-Approved Seal from the film. Sadly, much of it is a depressing story.

Content Description

Sex: None.
Language: Da*mit-1; by G-1
Violence: A monster tree is seen reaching into a house to grab a boy and speak to him; a boy is bullied in a few scenes, including being punched and kicked, and a young man pulls his tongue; a boy repeatedly strikes a bully in the face; animated scenes feature a character stabbing a woman with a knife, and some blood is seen on the character's hands; in an animated scene, a soldier is hit with a spear and bleeds and dies; old movie footage shows airplanes shooting King Kong off the top of the Empire State Building; a boy destroys a clock and furniture and a woman destroys some furniture in frustration.
Drugs: Prescription medicine is seen in a cabinet and on a woman's dresser; wine is seen with a meal; a boy says another must be "drunk", but he really isn't.
Nudity: Mild cleavage; a woman's nude, emaciated back is seen.
Other: A boy is encouraged to release his anger and he does so in destructive ways such as using a baseball bat on his grandmother's clock and furniture and repeatedly punching a boy in the face; a sick woman falls; death and grief; tension between characters; a story of an apothecary and parson and the story portrays the parson as being judgmental of the apothecary until he needs his help; scary images of a monster with red eyes; a comment about complicated truth making lies necessary; an animated skull is seen; a step-grandmother wants to marry her grandson so as to be queen; a scene shows a king being poisoned but we learn he died from old age; in anger, a boy jumps up and down on his grandmother's chair.


Company: Focus Features
Writer: Patrick Ness
Director: J.A. Bayona
Genre: Fantasy
Runtime: 108 min.
Industry Rating: PG-13
Reviewer: Edwin L Carpenter