Anastasia: Once Upon a Time
As Lenin plots to murder Russian Tsar Nicholas Romanov and his family, Rasputin creates a magical portal to help the family escape. Only the Grand Duchess, Anastasia, makes it through before the portal closes. Bound by a spell that turns Rasputin into an evil envoy of Lenin’s mission, he too enters the portal to hunt down Anastasia who has landed in Madison, USA, in 1988. A brilliant, quirky young teen, Megan discovers Anastasia and helps her navigate the wonders of this new world, while Anastasia hides from Rasputin. The spell is broken by love, and Rasputin and Anastasia leave the new world and go back to rescue her family, but Megan and Anastasia’s friendship endures.
A little more retro than the 1997 animated classic Anastasia, Anastasia: Once Upon a Time adds a magical 80s twist to the legend of the mysterious Russian duchess.
Lenin serves as the ultimate bad guy in this tale, as he tries to murder Anastasia’s royal family—the Romanov Dynasty. Rasputin (the animated classic’s villain) creates a time portal for the Romanov family to escape through, but only Anastasia travels through the portal and into a new world. Angry, Lenin hypnotizes Rasputin and sends him into the portal to bring Anastasia back. However, Anastasia isn’t alone. She now has the help of her new preteen friend, Megan, from a 1980s USA.
Megan has her own crisis. She is always bullied and has a tough time finding her place in school and everywhere else, but the girls form a strong friendship. Together, they have a bond that no evil magic can touch.
This film includes a strong message of friendship and sacrificial love, including a scene where Anastasia sacrifices her reputation and the approval of others by inviting local orphans to the palace ball. However, several scenes mention alcohol, like whiskey and vodka. Mild magical violence is scattered throughout the film, but there is no gore. Parents need to be aware of some of the heavier magical elements (i.e. good versus evil), as well as one haunted house-like scene that includes disturbing characters.
Because of some of the scary, magical elements, we award Anastasia: Once Upon a Time Dove-approval for Ages 12+.
The Dove Take:
This retro redo of the animated classic Anastasia hosts new themes of friendship and sacrifice, but parents need to be aware of darker magic and scary scenes that aren’t appropriate for young children.