The Velveteen Rabbit

  • Review Date: February 23, 2009
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2009

Common Sense Media says

Family film lacks frills but has sweet message for kids.
  • Review Date: February 23, 2009
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2009





What parents need to know

Positive messages

A father temporarily passess his young son off to a stern grandmother who at first seems more inconvenienced than overjoyed about her grandson's visit. But the main characters undergo a transition and in the end are the better for it.

Violence & scariness

Some intense scenes involving a fire and a noble act of self-sacrifice, but no violence.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this engaging live-action/animated feature (based on the classic children's book) deals with some themes -- like neglect and death -- that may need explaining, it does so in a way that's gentle enough for young viewers. There are a couple of tense scenes involving a fire, and the main character's mother has died (it happened before the events shown in the movie). But ultimately this is a crowd-pleasing story with a heartwarming, family-centric message.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Sent to spend Christmas with his grandmother -- who has little tolerance for messes, noises, and most anything associated with children -- while his workaholic father logs yet more time at the office, 10-year-old only child Toby Morgan (Matthew Harbour) finds solace in an attic filled with forgotten toys. Among them is a soft rabbit that comes to life -- along with his pals, Swan (Ellen Burstyn) and Horse (Tom Skerritt) -- and injects much-needed whimsy into Toby's daily existence by showing him a world of imagination. The animals believe that being loved will transform them into living, breathing creatures, and Rabbit is hopeful that he'll soon be hopping on all fours like bunnies are supposed to do. But trouble looms: Life feels so much more joyful in make-believe land that Toby starts to think he might not want to leave. A bout of scarlet fever might make this wish come true -- but then what will become of his grandmother, whose rough edges have softened during his stay, or his father, who may have realized a little too late that what matters most is (as Rabbit and his friends also discover) not just love, but loving?

Is it any good?


Inspired by Margery Williams' classic children's book, this live-action/animated hybrid will please audiences of all ages. The animation is relatively rudimentary, but no matter: The story is full of heart. The animals pose the film's existential central question -- what makes you real? -- in a graceful way that younger audiences can understand but older viewers can contemplate, too. (That's a tricky feat.)

The cast is charming, especially Harbour, who manages to convey both childlike wonder and world weariness at the same time. His rapport with Una Kay, who plays his grandmother, is wonderful, transforming believably from distant to devoted as the story moves forward. Movies these days are often jaded or sardonic, so it's a treat to find a gem like THE VELVETEEN RABBIT that doesn't try too hard to be either. It's happy to just be.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's central question: What makes someone/something real? Is it love? If so, why? Why were Toby's father and grandmother so distant from each other? Are their reasons understandable? How do their actions -- and their relationship -- affect Toby? How would you feel in Toby's position? And what did Rabbit bring to Toby's life (and vice-versa)? Is the change that comes over the family believable?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 27, 2009
DVD release date:March 17, 2009
Cast:Ellen Burstyn, Jane Seymour, Tom Skerritt
Director:Michael Landon Jr.
Studio:Family1 Films
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Book characters, Friendship
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of The Velveteen Rabbit 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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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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Parent of a 4 year old Written bygrammar cat November 11, 2009

Very very sad

This is a nice movie, but so sad. My son cried big heaving sobs 2 times that he watched it. His Dad cried with him the second time, so my son felt better, I think! Yes, great animation/mix

Parent Written byFarbrent August 16, 2011

Too scary for little kids.

My 2.5 daughter didn't like it we stopped it because the fire scenes were scary. This is the last time I neglect to check a review before letting her watch something.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written bybabsboop October 8, 2009

Great for Entire Family

My grandaughter is 3 and it is her favorite movies. I always watch it with her and still love it. Great for the whole family.

What other families should know
Great messages


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