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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Friendship, love, bravery, and loyalty are always major themes in the series, as is the idea of making good choices.
Positive Role Models
Harry and his friends are loyal to each other and demonstrate perseverance, teamwork, and courage. A charismatically dishonest teacher gets his comeuppance.
As Harry's booksmart friend, Hermione demonstrates her cleverness by solving one of the film's key mysteries. Ron's younger sister, Ginny, plays a larger role in this installment, though she requires rescuing. Characters of color, including Harry's fellow Gryffindors Dean Thomas and Lee Jordan (both Black) remain in background. The narrative further explores the issue of class through Lucius Malfoy's mistreatment of his house elf, Dobby. Unfortunately, mirroring its source material, the movie continues to play into fat-phobic stereotypes, depicting villains such as Harry's Uncle Vernon and cousin Dudley as gluttonous and cruel.
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Violence & Scariness
Kids are in peril often, but at the hand of fantasy creatures most of the time: giant spiders attack, and a basilisk (giant serpent) has Medusa-like abilities, nearly killing characters and putting them in a rigid, comatose state -- it chases Harry in a really tense scene. Harry falls from his broom and breaks his arm, and then bones in his arm are magically removed. A house elf punishes himself by hitting his head repeatedly. In a practice wizards' duel, students and teachers are thrown to the ground and a (small) snake threatens a student. A spell backfires and Ron coughs up slugs. Harry almost falls out of a flying car. Two main characters almost die in the film's climax.
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Hermione is called a "mudblood" by Draco, an offensive term in the Potter world meaning "dirty blood."
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Products & Purchases
While the candy mentioned wasn't originally real, it is now: Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Jelly Slugs, and more. And then there are the action figures, Lego play sets, wands, Band-Aid bandages ... you name it.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is scarier than the first film in the Harry Potter series (all based on the books by J.K. Rowling), and characters spend lots of time in extreme peril. There are frightening creatures, including hordes of big spiders and an enormous snake that can kill anyone who looks in its eyes. Though it appears that some characters have been hurt or killed, all the heroes are ultimately fine. But children who aren't already familiar with the story may be upset. There are also some gross-out moments when Ron's spell backfires and he spits up slugs, and when another misapplied spell leaves Harry without any bones in his forearm. Characters demonstrate courage, perseverance, and teamwork. In addition, friendship, love, bravery, and loyalty are always major themes in the series, as is the idea of making good choices. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Kids will find this chapter a thrilling and utterly satisfying experience. That applies both to those looking for a meticulous realization of the beloved book Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and those who watch the film knowing only the first movie -- or even those with no knowledge of Harry Potter at all. The child actors are growing up, and they seem more comfortable in their roles here, bringing more depth and subtlety to their acting. And Branagh is wildly funny as Lockhart. There are also some magnificent cast additions, especially Jason Isaacs, coolly cruel as Lucius Malfoy, the father of Harry's foe, Draco (Tom Felton).
Every frame of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is filled with wonder, especially Diagon Alley and the moving photos and portraits. There's a wealth of detail and delight to entrance viewers -- so much that they'll likely leave wanting more, even after a running time of 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.