Anna and the King

  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1999

Common Sense Media says

Intense, mature version of The King and I.
  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1999

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
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15
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Violence

Violent battles, whipping, beheading.

Sex

References to concubines, adultery.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking, King smokes cigars, child smokes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is some very intense violence, including battle scenes, bloody beatings, and non-graphic but very tense beheadings. Dead bodies hang from a tree and soldiers are poisoned. There is a very sad death of a child. There are references to the king's many wives and concubines and one reluctant concubine is shown being prepared for her first night with him, and being reassured that he is a generous lover. The king smokes cigars and the boys try one.

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What's the story?

Jody Foster plays Anna, a widowed Englishwoman who lived most of her life in India. The king hires her to teach his children about the world outside of Siam. She respects the king's culture, but she is appalled by the cruel treatment of bonded servants and urges him to make changes. The king is very progressive in some ways. He respects her independent spirit and values her counsel, but he forbids her to talk to her students about that issue. Siam is independent, but bounded by colonies of France and England, and vulnerable. Anna aids the King in persuading the English that Siam is stable and "civilized." And when the King and his children are in danger, Anna provides support.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

ANNA AND THE KING is the fourth movie version of the story of Anna Leonowens, brought to Siam in 1864 by King Monghut to teach his children. Anna and the King end up teaching each other a few things, too. Of course, the best-remembered version is the classic with Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr, and the unforgettable songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein. This version has spectacle to spare, but no "Getting to Know You," no "Whistle a Happy Tune," no genuine connection between the two leads (though viewers are supposed to believe that they are in love with one another), and a script that teeters between stolid and awful.

It's best to watch this movie with your eyes more than your ears. It is a visual treat. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (The Black Stallion) creates stunning images of splendor. But the dialogue is dreadful and the plot does not hold together, especially in a bizarre Mulan-style rescue. Worst of all is the all-but-loony way that the two leads, both playing highly principled people deeply aware of their responsibilities, linger over a goodbye when the bad guys are charging, dance romantically in the middle of a state dinner, and generally act like Archie and Veronica at the malt shop.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about cultural diversity and how we distinguish between fundamental truths and cultural differences, the challenges of power (for example, the constant threats from those who want to seize it), and the importance of surrounding ourselves with people who tell us the truth, even when it is hard to hear.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 17, 1999
DVD release date:February 4, 2003
Cast:Bai Ling, Chow Yun-Fat, Jodie Foster
Director:Andy Tennant
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Drama
Run time:147 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:violence

This review of Anna and the King was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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