The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina

  • Review Date: January 5, 2012
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2002

Common Sense Media says

Disney remake with classic characters has stronger heroine.
  • Review Date: January 5, 2012
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2002





What parents need to know

Educational value

Not specifically educational, though kids might be encouraged to check out the original fairy tales that inspired this story.

Positive messages

Strong messages about the importance of family and friendship, as well as being yourself (Thumbelina proclaims that it is "better to be an original than a copy.").

Positive role models

Unlike fairy tale heroines from the past, this version of Thumbelina makes her own decisions and thinks for herself. She works together with Tom Thumb to solve their problems, and choose to celebrate their uniqueness rather than hide it. 

Violence & scariness

Some standard cartoon violence -- chases, spills, falls. Early in the film, a monkey bites the hand of the circus ringleader, which requires him to wear gauze. 

Sexy stuff

Some of the romantic references may go over the heads of younger viewers, as various bugs develop crushes on Tom, to say nothing of the Mole King's desire to marry Thumbelina. 


Negative characters in the film throw around names like "morons," "freaks," and "rejects." 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this modern-day reinterpretation of these two classic characters makes Thumbelina far less of a "damsel in distress" and more of a take-charge woman on an equal partnership with Tom. There's some cartoonish violence throughout their adventure, but unlike many kids' films, the snappy dialogue and all-star cast should keep both parents and kids engaged through repeat viewings. 

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

As babies, Tom Thumb (Elijah Wood) and Thumbelina (Jennifer Love Hewitt) were taken from their village by a giant. While Tom ended up with a kindly man named Ben, Thumbelina is held captive by a wicked circus ringmaster who runs a traveling freakshow. While Ben sends Tom off to find others like him, Thumbelina makes her escape. They meet, but encounter difficulties with lovelorn beetles, an inquisitive aspiring boy etymologist, and, worst of all, the Mole King (Peter Gallagher), who wants to force Thumbelina to marry him.  

Is it any good?


THE ADVENTURES OF TOM THUMB AND THUMBELINA is a fun tale with enough constant action and snappy dialogue to keep both children and adults entertained. The animation looks like something from a Tim Burton movie, and with a cast of familiar names lending their talents (besides Wood and Hewitt, there's also Jon Stewart, Robert Guillaume, and Bebe Neuwirth), the acting is above average for children's fare. 

Fairy tale purists may scoff at this modern-day reinterpretation of these two beloved characters, and while the musical numbers don't always shine, for those wearied of female characters in this genre being typically weak, helpless, and unable to fend for themselves, this version of Thumbelina is a refreshing evolution away from centuries-long archetypes. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about home, and why it is important for Tom and Thumbelina to try and find where they come from. Before meeting each other, why do Tom and Thumbelina feel like the only ones who look like they do? 

  • Thumbelina says that it is "better to be original than a copy." What does that mean? 

  • How are these versions of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina different than and similar to versions of these two characters in other movies and stories? Why do you think they changed them compared to how they've been in the past? 

Movie details

DVD release date:August 6, 2002
Cast:Elijah Wood, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Peter Gallagher
Director:Glenn Chaika
Studio:Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Topics:Fairy tales
Run time:75 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina was written by

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  • 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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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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Adult Written byTony632 April 9, 2012

boring, family movie

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much consumerism
Parent Written byphawkpaige August 20, 2013

A Waste of Time

This is a typical girl needs saving by boy movie. Ridiculous fluff that I wish I had not let my 8 and 6 year old girls watch.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old Written byIheartLionKing April 6, 2013

A clever, underrated delight, friendly for any age.

It may look like a bad film, for reasons such as animation that isn't too spectacular, but I honestly couldn't find any harmful issues with this movie. I think it's great for kids with good characters with good voice actors, fun songs, and a good story. As far as it goes for little kids, there are some moments that can be a bit violent, but there won't be anything that would scar the children for life or anything. Thumbelina, the main character, is a good role model for children that isn't a stereotype for girls in children's media. She isn't just some damsel in distress that constantly has to be rescued by the knight in shining armor. A lot of times, she takes manors into her own hand, and shows girls that there is more to being a girl/princess that constantly has to have the man save her. This is very underrated, and is a good movie for kids. If you can't find anything better for your five-year-old to watch, defiantly get The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina.

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence


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