Latte is a crazy little hedgehog who spends her days sleeping, foraging for food and water, fending off bullies and sleeping some more. The other animals in her forest community don’t really seem to like her—they think she’s lazy and selfish.
It’s not like this “princess” (a moniker she gave herself) is getting a lot of guidance from the adults in her life. Her dad left a long time ago and her mom isn’t even mentioned. As for the rest, they’ve been consumed by the drought affecting their community. The spring that normally provides them with water has completely dried up, and they’re depending on everyone to collect and share whatever little moisture they can find.
Ordinarily, Latte would be content to collect just enough water for herself before carrying on with her day, but after the pumpkin serving as a sort of water tower for their community is destroyed, Latte initially gets blamed.
Truth be told, she was only partially responsible for the disaster, and Tjum (the squirrel who actually smashed it) takes full responsibility. But despite her aloof demeanor, Latte really does care what her community thinks about her. She’s tired of being thought of as its weak link.
So, when Korp the Raven (the only member of the community considered crazier than Latte herself) tells them about a magic waterstone that can restore the river, Latte decides to go after it.
It’ll be quite the journey. For one, nobody actually believes it exists. But secondly, if it does exist, it’s in the clutches of the bear king Bantur.
Latte doesn’t care though. Because if she succeeds, maybe everyone will finally see her worth.
Despite Latte’s frequent protests that she can take care of herself, it’s quite clear that she hates being alone. She tells Tjum why she started calling herself a princess: It was easier to pretend that her dad was a king who had to focus on his kingdom, rather than admitting that he left. Tjum understands this and makes a concerted effort to prove to her that people do care about her.
Latte’s stubbornness and selfishness start off as problems. However, her stubborn attitude is what keeps her going even when the going gets tough. And by the end, Latte learns the value of sharing and manages to provide water for everyone, even the bears who stole the waterstone.
King Bantur’s son, Amaroo, is devastated when he learns his dad stole the waterstone and isn’t the hero he thought he was. However, he decides to help Latte and Tjum return the stone to its rightful place. And while this angers his dad at first, Bantur realizes the wisdom of sharing the water with everyone and praises Amaroo for making the right decision.
Like Amaroo, Tjum also goes against his parents’ wishes when he sets out to help Latte. However, they make it clear that they weren’t angry, just worried, and are proud of him for being brave.
When Tjum and Latte seemingly get away with breaking the water pumpkin, Latte tells him not to confess. But Tjum remembers the lessons that his father taught him about honesty; he admits to causing the accident and apologizes.
The magic waterstone does indeed exist. When it touches the earth, glowing turquoise water flows from it. Someone describes a sleight-of-hand trick as “magical.” Someone says “hallelujah” and “oh blessed day.”
Latte frequently looks up at the moon and imagines talking to her dad, asking for signs that she’s making the right choices. She takes the happy coincidences that follow (like finding an edible bug) as confirmation.
Creatures eat bugs and fish throughout the movie. While not inherently violent, in a world where animals are sentient beings, it can feel a little cruel (especially when we see fish being snatched from the water by sharp bear teeth and the leftover skeletons on the ground).
Latte and Tjum are chased by bears, wolves and a lynx and nearly eaten several times. The lynx is knocked unconscious by a falling tree. A wolf is smacked by a bear. Two bears are knocked down when Bantur hits them accidentally while dancing. Several violent animals are washed away by a sudden stream when Latte returns the waterstone to its rightful place. Characters frequently talk about the danger of getting eaten by wild animals.
Tjum gets pushed around by some bullies. Latte and Tjum get into a few little scuffles, occasionally knocking each other down. Some animals fall from great heights but are unharmed. A bear stands guard at a cave with a spear-like stick.
While language is clean, we do hear the substitutes “dang,” “darn” and “doggone.” A character says, “Holy hazelnuts!” They also exchange insults which might be a cause for concern for some families. These insults include “weird,” “dumb,” “freak,” “moron,” “nut-head,” “idiot,” “pighead,” “tattle butt,” “slug muncher,” “nutjob,” “slime dweller,” “nut-skull,” “dumbhead,” “jerk” and “dolt.” Latte also says, “kiss my spiky butt.”
Latte can be quite rude. She has a tendency to mock creatures that could easily harm her and also shows no respect to the adults in her life, often going directly against their instructions.
After Latte mocks a bully for crying out for his dad, he retorts that at least he has a dad. Later, someone cruelly says that hopefully Latte won’t come back if she leaves—just like her dad. Tjum gets angry with Latte for defending him against bullies since it makes him look foolish in the process. The adult animals mock Korp for his conspiracy theories and call him crazy.
Several creatures fear they will die from thirst. Characters lie, cheat and steal.
Based on the book by Sebastian Lybeck, Latte and the Magic Waterstone is tale of bravery, perseverance and friendship. Though stubborn, lazy and selfish at first, Latte realizes that these qualities are the reasons she feels so lonely. By insisting she isn’t afraid of anything and that she doesn’t need anybody, she pushes people away.
However, Tjum sees through this and goes out of his way to help and protect her on her quest to save the forest. Although they get into a few arguments along the way, he never truly gives up on her. And together, they manage to save not only their small community but the entire forest and surrounding lands.
Parental concerns lie in Latte’s poor attitude (especially at the beginning of the film), the incessant name-calling, a few forest animal scuffles involving bears with large teeth and the magic waterstone itself. There’s also the fact that Latte is an orphan, which could be triggering for some younger viewers in similar situations. However, the positive lessons in sharing, honesty and friendship are strong enough that most families will be able to enjoy this film despite these minor concerns.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.