A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids can use the movie as a springboard to discuss superstition versus science, as the main Victorian-era family takes a scientific approach to their problems. Older kids may also be encouraged to seek out the original story by Oscar Wilde that the film is based on.
How friendships and teamwork can help overcome problems. Courage is shown in the face of danger.
Positive Role Models
Sir Simon De Canterville is a ghost who has haunted his house for 300 years and scared away all newcomers. He feels frustrated when the new family aren't scared and feels guilty about his wife's accidental death. After losing control and causing harm to another person, he apologizes and asks for forgiveness. The Otis family arrive from the United States and aren't scared of Sir Simon. Hiram Otis behaves rationally toward Sir Simon and approaches him with curiosity. Teen girl Virginia doesn't like her new home and bets Sir Simon that he can't scare away the family in the hope that he'll manage it. She is adventurous and bold, and eventually helps Sir Simon reunite with his wife. Twin siblings Kent and Louis are often rude and enjoy playing pranks.
Culture clash between a family from the U.S. and Victorian-era British people. Aristocratic Brits are shown as grotesque and mentally ill. All main characters are White, while the voice cast has people of color. An old-fashioned ghost is shocked to see a young woman wearing trousers.
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Violence & Scariness
Gothic ghostly activity as a ghost tries to scare people away from their house. Objects appear to come to life and paintings change to look at characters. A ghost wears a scary skeleton face with worms in their mouth. They take off their head to scare people and two kids play soccer with it. Death is discussed often, as well as an accusation of murder. A character dies while visiting the afterlife but is revived. Worrying scene when a ghost loses control and burns a building, causing someone to be trapped inside under a chandelier. Characters sword fight and one battles a big dragon skull monster with tentacles. Young children play fight with medieval weapons. Character throws books at children's heads and at a ghost. A weed snares a character's leg underwater. Characters die when swords pierce their hearts.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Attraction between two young characters leads to a relationship forming. A dead character longs to be reunited with their wife in the afterlife.
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A character taunts another saying they "peed their pants." One use of "idiot."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
What looks like red wine is drunk at a dinner party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Canterville Ghost is an animated adaptation of Oscar Wilde's classic ghost story. Set in Victorian England, the movie's culture-clash set-up centers on an American family moving into a house that's been haunted by the ghost of Sir Simon de Canterville (voiced by Stephen Fry) for the past 300 years. He tries to scare them away, but they're more curious than terrified. The movie has scary moments; nothing gets too intense, but there is quite a bit of discussion around death. The Grim Reaper (Hugh Laurie) holds a sand timer to represent life and says that it goes by quickly, with the moral being to make the most of it. A character is accused of murdering his wife, and a young couple strikes up a chaste relationship. Violence includes sword fights and danger/peril when a character is trapped under a chandelier in a burning building. Another character dies during a scene in which she's helping someone but (spoiler alert) is revived. The film has positive messages about friendship and teamwork. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This functional retelling of the Oscar Wilde ghost story provides enough entertainment for younger viewers venturing into the world of spooky movies. The Canterville Ghost is lighthearted but suitably gothic, and comic relief is provided by a cocky pair of prankster brothers. Fry gives a spirited performance as the grumpy ghost, Sir Simon De Canterville, and is reunited with his former comedy partner Hugh Laurie, although his role as the Grim Reaper is fleeting. Indeed the concept of death haunts the movie, which may be troubling for the youngest of viewers, although it strongly presents the idea of an afterlife. Elsewhere Miranda Hart's wacky ghosthunter, The Ghost Catcher, grates. But with strong messages of friendship, teamwork and courage, The Canterville Ghost is a solid adaptation that covers some tough subjects.
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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.
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