In a non-Christmas-esque children's film -- no signing chipmunks, no reference to a bearded jolly old guy -- "The Water Horse" made a splash into theatres to a mediocre reception.
Angus a lonely boy, whose father is supposedly off to war (he's really dead and mom just hasn't told him yet), and finds an egg while out for a wander. When the egg hatches, Angus discovers it's a curious creature -- a water horse. The water horse eats a lot and needs water to survive, and the bigger the body of water he is in, the bigger he can grow. Mom hires a handy man named Lewis, who figures out what Angus is trying to hide and convinces to him to let him go in the ocean. Angus does, although reluctantly.
The water horse is happy to be free, but when is prevented from swimming to the ocean by a large net the military have built to prevent the Russians from sending spy submarines into the loch. Thus, Angus ends up living in the loch for a while.
Of course, it's important to remember that we're not talking about the Loch Ness Monster, Nellie, here. While they hint that there can only be one water horse at a time, thus Angus is the only one, the door is dangling open for Angus being Nellie's relation. It's equally vital to overlook that a loch, by definition, won't be accessible to a submarine, because it's (gasp) a lake. Details, details.
The little ones in the audience couldn't care less, though, and bully for them. The young Angus takes care of the little monster, playing and eventually setting it free into the loch, which isn't the worst of lessons of childhood. And since this isn't a gigantic whale named Willy, it could even seem like a new idea.
Director Jay Russell has brought us other kid-friend films, so he knows a thing or three about putting these together ("Tuck Everlasting" in 2002, "My Dog Skip" in 2000, and the less well-known "End of the Line" in 1987). Alex Etel as Angus (the same tyke from "Millions" a few years back, also a great family flick), carries the role well, despite this being his second time in front of the camera.
The story is simple enough for your younger viewers, and decent for the rest of us. The kids will enjoy it, but if you're looking for something while they're at home with grandma or the sitter, I'd saw wait for a Netflix -- there are some nearing greatness ones in theatres now with Oscar potential. (And short of this being an animated film, I think it will easily be lost in the sea -- open water or freshwater lake -- of better films.)