Movie Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

My granddaughter Aubrey has wanted to see this movie, based on previews we saw last summer at the theater. The film released at the end of September, and we almost missed it! I picked up my little movie buddy from school Friday and she immediately asked if Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was still playing. When I confirmed it was, off we went. 

Being near the end of its run, Aubrey and I were the only ticket purchasers for the 4:25 showing, and we had the entire theater to ourselves. She loved our private viewing. I held off posting a review until today. I had a question for my granddaughter, that she answered for me this afternoon. 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children stars Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L Jackson, Judi Dench, Rupert Everett, Chris O’Dowd, Terence Stamp and Ella Purnell. This fantasy was directed by Tim Burton and it is based on the Ransom Riggs novel by the same name. The movie carries a PG-13 rating, for intense action scenes, and has a run time of 2 hours and 7 minutes. 

After the tragic death of his grandfather, Abe (Stamp), Jake (Butterfield) and his father Franklin (O’Dowd) travel to the mysterious island of Cairnholm, in Wales. Jake’s grandfather often told his grandson fantastical stories of a Miss Peregrine, who ran a home on the island for peculiar children. Abe claimed he grew up on the remote island, where he was protected and allowed to develop his own peculiarity. 

While his father photographs native birds for his book, Jake combs the island, discovering the ruins of Miss Peregrine’s house after it was bombed in 1943. A letter from Miss Peregrine, that Jake found in his grandfather’s book after his death, was dated two years ago. The mystery deepens. 

Confused but determined, Jake returns to the shell of the house the next day. He encounters a group of strange children, who ultimately lead him to Miss Peregrine (Green), caregiver of the children in the grand old house, that now appears whole. 

Miss Peregrine has been expecting Jake. He soons discovers that the stories his grandfather told were true. The children have amazing gifts such as invisibility, the ability to create fire with a touch, and super human strength. Jake is particularly drawn to Emma (Purnell), a beautiful teen girl who can manipulate air and must wear lead shoes so she won’t float away. 

To remain safe, Miss Peregrine has created a time loop in 1943, that resets every 24 hours, just before a bomb explodes over the house. Because of the loop, the children never age. Abe only grew older after he left the home. 

As Jake learns more about the children and their enigmatic protector, he realizes the children are hidden away, not just to protect them from a harsh and unaccepting world, but to protect them from an evil that hunts for them and would destroy them to increase its own power. 

Judi Dench appears, briefly, as an ally on the side of good. And interestingly, Rupert Everett and Samuel L Jackson share the same role as the predator who seeks out all peculiar children. 

When the monsters infiltrate the island, Jake joins with Miss Peregrine and the children to fight the darkness and find another safe home. In the process, he must accept his own peculiarity and decide whether he will use his gift. 

This was a great movie to watch with Aubrey. The first ten minutes were, indeed, edgy and tense, causing my wee granddaughter to abandon her seat and climb into my lap. As she hugged me tightly and peered at the huge screen, she muttered, “I may have made a mistake!” Thankfully, the movie shifted and lightened up, and although she made herself comfortable in my lap for the duration of the film, she was never uneasy again. 

I loved that we had the theater to ourselves. With no one else present to disturb, we discussed the movie as it unfolded, which was a first for us. Aubrey is a keen observer of films, able to pick up deeper truths within the story. It was fun to whisper and exclaim, ask and answer questions, and speculate about   outcomes. I enjoyed her fresh perspectives and insights. And laughed aloud over some of her witty quips. 

Because we talked about the movie during the movie, we didn’t have our usual chat afterwards. I realized too late that I failed to ask Aubrey what peculiarity she would like to have. Today I had the opportunity to pick Aubs up from school, and I asked her. After a few moments of thought, she decided she would like to be able to change her appearance, at will, and look like anyone she wanted. I appreciated her honest answer and I’ll follow up with her soon, to make sure Aubrey is not unhappy about who she is, in anyway. I see her filling up with beauty. I want her to see that too. 

Of course, the truth is, we are all peculiar children, with our own unique gifts to offer to the world. I am glad we don’t have to hide who we are, or fear that the darkness will take from us. As I journey with this girl, and each of my grandsons, we will revisit this truth often. 

And the peculiarity I wish I had? I’d like to possess the ability to instantly transport to a desired location. I would snap my fingers and be in Scotland, New Zealand or Italy. I don’t have that gift though. I will embrace what I do have…the ability to connect deeply with others and journey with them, and a creativity that finds expression in gardening, creating vignettes and writing. I’m okay with those peculiarities!