A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Most of the messages are inspiring, since the protagonists are clearly "heroes" who accept help from others to overcome obstacles, learn the importance of being loyal to friends, and embody the idea that those who stand together for good can triumph over evil, even at great cost. Themes include courage, perseverance, and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Professor Dumbledore is an excellent, selfless role model. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny are flawed teenagers, but that helps make them some of the most relatable characters in children's literature -- as well as admirable, since they're also loyal, brave, self-sacrificing, generous, and empathetic. On the flip side are the Death Eaters and the unreliable, enigmatic character of Severus Snape. Tom Riddle (Voldemort as a boy) is cruel, calculating, cold -- but it's clear that most characters recognize these troubling qualities. Draco Malfoy, who has been "promoted" to Death Eater, is still shown as conflicted and scared about the task Voldemort assigns him. Professor Slughorn means well, but his head is turned by fame and fortune. Still, in the end, he manages to be brave.
Hermione grows as a strong female character with complex emotions of her own, as does Ginny. Luna Lovegood returns as a supportive friend to Harry. Draco's mother, Narcissa Malfoy, and Bellatrix Lestrange demonstrate a sisterly bond, adding depth to their otherwise villainous characters. Harry flirts with a Muggle waitress who's a young Black woman. Students of color at Hogwarts, including Dean Thomas, Blaise Zabini, and Cho Chang, make appearances but remain on the sidelines. Hogwarts teacher Professor Flitwick is played by an actor who was born with the condition spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenital (SED), which caused his dwarfism.
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Violence & Scariness
As in the book, the sixth movie includes the death of a beloved major character (murdered via killing curse). Voldemort himself isn't shown in this film; young Tom Riddle appears instead. Several injuries and close calls: A curse severely bloodies a character, a character is bruised and beaten, two characters are accidentally poisoned, a main character is seen having a life-threatening seizure, Death Eaters set a house on fire and destroy buildings and structures both in the magical realm and in the Muggle world (they also kidnap a Diagon Alley denizen). Harry and Dumbledore must fend off very frightening, skeleton-like creatures during a dangerous mission.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of flirting and "snogging" (kissing) among the Hogwarts students, both main characters and extras. Several discussions about attraction, romantic relationships, unrequited feelings, love potions, jealousy, and adolescent dating. Several kisses and instances of hand-holding and longing gazes. Random couples are shown making out in the halls and at parties. Talk of getting together and/or breaking up threads through the whole movie.
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Mild insults/British slang like "daft," "dimbo" (which means dumb bimbo), "idiot," "bloody," and the like. A couple of uses of phrases like "good God."
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Products & Purchases
Harry and his friends visit Fred and George Weasley's new joke shop in Diagon Alley. In real life, the film franchise includes a ton of off-screen merchandising deals, toys, and other tie-ins.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Harry and his underage pals (the legal drinking age in England is 18) drink butterbeer, mead, and what looks like wine at the Three Broomsticks pub and a couple of dinner parties (it's unclear to those not versed in the books whether butterbeer is actually alcoholic). In one scene, as a celebration, a professor offers alcohol to Ron and Harry; the same professor serves drinks to several teens at a holiday party. Harry also takes a "luck" potion that alters his behavior in a way that seems slightly high, and Ron is thrown for a loop by a powerful love potion. Professor Slughorn and Hagrid get pretty deep into their cups in one scene.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is extremely edgy for a PG movie -- in all ways, it's very similar to the previous two movies, which were rated PG-13. It continues the Harry Potter series' (all based on the books by J.K. Rowling) trend toward darker, more intense material. For young children, the death of a major beloved character could be extremely upsetting. Other characters are bloodied, kicked, and cursed in frightening ways, and a scene involving zombie-like characters is sure to scare little kids. There are also some big emotional upheavals and violent attacks. And there's notably more sexuality -- albeit playfully depicted -- than in the past movies. Because the characters are now teens, much of the interaction between them and their friends centers on getting a boy- or girlfriend, and there's plenty of snogging (making out). Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends continue as strong positive role models who demonstrate courage, perseverance, and teamwork. Meanwhile, other characters' motives and plans become more ambiguous. There are also a few scenes that include alcohol consumption -- including one in which a professor serves his students. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
David Yates, who took over the franchise with the fifth movie, has created a mature, relationship-focused installment. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince masterfully sets the stage for the high-stakes finale. (Deathly Hallows was so epic that it was split into two movies.) Not all of the characters and scenes from the book make it into the film adaptation. Fans will have to deal with no scenes set in Defense Against the Dark Arts class (Snape is finally the teacher), hardly any Neville (Matthew Lewis) or Weasley twins (James Phelps and Oliver Phelps), and a bit too much foreshadowing.
What Yates does offer is an incredibly human look at how adolescent wizards deal with their burgeoning hormones: "Won Won" lands his first girlfriend, Hermione acknowledges the extent of her undeclared feelings for Ron, and Harry realizes that his best friend's kid sister, Ginny (Bonnie Wright, who really comes into her own this time), just might be his match. It's adorable -- and spot-on -- that even during the darkest times, teenagers still want to snog. As emotional as the film's climactic scene is, there's a small sense of relief in knowing that Harry still isn't alone. He has loyal, unconditional friends ready to risk their lives so that light can prevail over darkness.
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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.