Hansel and Gretel

  • Review Date: January 6, 2011
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1988

Common Sense Media says

Scary witch may be too intense for very young kids.
  • Review Date: January 6, 2011
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1988

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Even in what looks like an extraordinarily bleak situation, thoughtful planning and teamwork can save the day. Ignoring rules can get kids in trouble.

Positive role models

The woodcutter and his wife are poor and hungry, but the woodcutter, a loving husband and father, handles the situation in a responsible, helpful way. His wife, though also loving, is depressed and angrily explodes, taking her frustration out on Hansel and Gretel. There are dire consequences for her behavior, and she learns an important lesson. Hansel and Gretel are basically good kids, but when they don't listen to their parents, they pay dearly.

Violence & scariness

Lots of scary sequences involving an ugly, cackling witch who wields a knife while threatening two lost children with death and the fact that she's planning to fatten them up and then eat them. Ghostly sounds, laughter, and cries for help emanate from a dark forest in several scenes. A duck is boiled and then tossed into a fiery oven. The witch herself suffers the same fate. The witch's gingerbread house blows up and melts, erupting as a volcano with flowing green and red goo. Reference is made to the fact that children have been disappearing in the woods.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language

The children are called names by both their mother and the wicked witch: "stupid," "worthless idiot," "foolish boy," etc.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Hansel and Gretel is not the 2013 R-rated theatrical release Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Many parts of this live-action fairy tale may be frightening for very young or sensitive kids. The wicked witch is portrayed with blackened teeth and fingernails, warts on her face, wild white hair, and a pointed chin. She's sometimes shot in extreme close-up, with intense eyes glaring into the camera, wild hair flowing, bared teeth, and a cackling laugh. A duck is dropped into a cauldron of boiling water and then into a fiery oven. In the climactic scene, the wicked witch is sent into the boiling pot, then into the oven, and finally is blown up. Other scenes take place in a dark forest and are infused with sounds of ghostly laughter, pleading voices, and pitiful shrieks. Hansel and Gretel's mother is distraught and angry early in the film and berates her children and husband continually.  

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Based on a story from The Brothers Grimm with some music from the Engelbert Humperdinck opera of the same name, HANSEL AND GRETEL is another in the low-budget series of Cannon Fairy Tales -- live action, star-driven musical films from the late 1980s. Hansel and Gretel (Hugh Pollard and Nicola Stapleton) are the children of a poor woodcutter (David Warner) and his wife (Emily Richard). As punishment for bad behavior, their mother orders them to pick berries for dinner. They wander into a forbidden part of a nearby forest -- from which other children have disappeared -- and get lost. While their distraught father searches frantically for them, they find themselves in the domain of Griselda (Cloris Leachman), a grandmotherly type who welcomes them into her enticing gingerbread house with open arms and trays of delicious sweets. But she soon divulges her true identity: Griselda is an evil witch intent upon fattening up Hansel, then eating him. Gretel will work as her servant until she, too, becomes a tasty meal. The tension builds as the woodcutter searches and the terrified kids try to delay their fate.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

In a series of films noted for shoddy production values -- flimsy sets (some of which show up in several of the movies), a mostly amateur cast (also repeat performers), mediocre original songs, and outrageously inept special effects -- this movie stands out, if only because it's smaller in scope and cast, thus less likely to reveal the tackiness of the effort.

Leachman is the witchiest of scary witches, obviously having a wonderful time slavering over the prospect of eating the children. The two young actors are passable, and Warner worries with the best of them. Still, there are some unintentional laughs: a poor duck's (as well as the witch's) emergence from a boiling cauldron is particularly ludicrous, as is the moment when the tasty house erupts in a river of oozing red and green goo. All in all, HANSEL AND GRETEL could actually be enjoyable and provide a good scare for not-so-sensitive kids who care little for production quality.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes a film scary. Are you more or less frightened by events in animated films or live-action films? What tools did the filmmakers use to make Griselda so terrifying?

  • Hansel and Gretel's mother is angry because her family is poor and hungry, so she treats her children thoughtlessly. How can people handle anger and frustration more constructively?

  • There are many versions of this fairy tale. It might be fun to read the original Grimm's fairy tale. What did the filmmakers change, and why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 10, 1988
DVD release date:December 10, 1988
Cast:Cloris Leachman, David Warner, Hugh Pollard
Director:Len Talan
Studio:MGM/UA
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Book characters
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Hansel and Gretel 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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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byRawrIsDinoTalkF... June 4, 2011
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

boo the one i get at blockbuster is better

why dont you remix this stuff up and get the old scary cooler version i like that one better

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Educator and Parent of an infant and 1 year old Written byMommaOfTwoo November 21, 2012
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

ok.

If you don't care about quality then you might enjoy this take on Hansel and Gretel.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 15 year old Written byTim Donathen February 4, 2013
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Very Good Movie !!!!

I think this was a very good movie. The movie is more of an action/adventure than anything. I feel like it was a good movie and wasn't a waist of my time. A little violent for younger kids....Don't listen to others....if you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, go see this movie....you wont be disappointed !

What other families should know
Too much violence

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