The Wizard of Oz

  • Review Date: May 19, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1939

Common Sense Media says

Even decades later, one of the best family films ever made.
  • Review Date: May 19, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1939

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

A simple reminder that we can always find our way home, and that with a little help, we can overcome our fears.

Positive messages

Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow work together to overcome many challenges and face their fears to reach the Wizard of Oz. Their friendship allows them to act selflessly and courageously.

Positive role models

Dorothy is a fine example of courage under fire, as she embarks on a potentially dangerous quest to find the Wizard of Oz, aided by new friends. She agrees not to surrender the ruby slippers once Glinda convinces her their magical powers would be dangerous in the hands of the Wicked Witch, and she ultimately defeats the Wicked Witch.

Violence & scariness

The Wicked Witch of the West is quite creepy and menacing, as are her scary henchmonkeys. Very young children may be frightened during the twister scene.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language

Nothing objectionable, although Dorothy does call Ms. Gulch "a wicked witch."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the 1939 fantasy contains several scenes that may be scary for very young children, almost all of which involve the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West and her band of creepy flying monkeys. Most parents who've seen the movie before know that the plot includes a disastrous tornado, and an enchanted forest full of red-eyed creatures and talking trees. By today's rating standards, this Hollywood classic is downright tame, but between the twister, the mild peril, and the general menacing, murderous intentions of the witch, some pre-schoolers could be frightened.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Based on L. Frank Baum's classic children's book, THE WIZARD OF OZ is a fantasy musical following Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland), a Kansas farm-girl whose best friend is her beloved dog Toto. Distraught over a mean-spirited neighbor's attempt to have Toto put to sleep, Dorothy runs away with her pet. On her way back home, Dorothy is caught in a twister, which knocks her out and seems to lift the entire farmhouse into the sky. After the house crash-lands, Dorothy and Toto step out far, far away from Kansas into a technicolor land. Suddenly, a multitude of munchkins and Glinda, a lovely good witch (Billie Burke), hail the confused Dorothy as a heroine for landing on the Wicked Witch of the East ("Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead," they sing). But when the dead witch's sister, the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) arrives on the scene, she demands that Dorothy hand over her sister's pair of magical ruby slippers, which are now on Dorothy's feet. Unwilling to give up the slippers, Dorothy starts on a mysterious trip down a yellow brick road to Emerald City, where she hopes to find the Wonderful Wizard of Oz -- the only person capable of returning her home. On her journey, Dorothy befriends a Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), a Tin Man (Jack Haley), and a Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) who desperately seek a brain, a heart, and courage, respectively. If they can reach the Wizard and outwit the vengeful Witch, all of their dreams may come true.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Even 70 years after its release, director Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz is quite obviously a masterpiece of early cinema. Not only is it one of the finest examples of the hero (or, in this case, the heroine's) journey, which has influenced every epic quest tale from Star Wars to Harry Potter, but it is also a magical combination of drama, adventure, fantasy, and musical. This is one of the rare movie phenomena that modern-day grandparents can remember seeing as little ones, and that nostalgia can be easily shared with yet another generation of children, who can now watch it in high-definition or Blu Ray. It's a testament to the movie's universal appeal that seven decades later, Oz is still culturally significant -- from Halloween costumes to sing-along-shows to remixes of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Garland, who was only 16 when Oz was filmed, is inimitably sublime as Dorothy, especially when she sings. Although contemporary moviegoers are used to precocious young "triple threats" marketed by Disney and Nickelodeon, Garland stands out as one of the first. Garland's impressively mature voice soars beyond the rainbow and into the audiences' hearts. Beyond Dorothy, there's the amazing trifecta of theater-trained actors (Lahr, Bolger, Haley) who played her yellow-brick-road companions. Hamilton is deliciously evil as the green-skinned witch, and Burke is memorably comforting as the beautiful good witch Glinda. Everyone should see The Wizard of Oz multiple times in their lives; it's simply a must-see film.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about elements of the classic movie that 70 years later can be found in contemporary films. What other popular movies follow a main hero and his supportive friends on an important journey?

  • Discuss the way that the movie combines several genres. How does the change from black-and-white to color affect the movie's tone?

  • How does the Scarecrow demonstrate his intelligence, the Tin Man his heart, and the Lion his courage? How does each one find what they need within themselves?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 25, 1939
DVD release date:October 1, 2013
Cast:Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Judy Garland, Ray Bolger
Director:Victor Fleming
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Run time:101 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of The Wizard of Oz 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.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of an infant, 4, and 7 year old Written bymommyof3lil1s August 31, 2010
AGE
4
QUALITY
 

Classic

I loved this movie as a child and although my 7 year old is afraid of the flying monkeys and the wicked witch, my 4 year old LOVES it!!

What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Kid, 11 years old Written byalllamericanreject November 14, 2009
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

The Best Family Film Ever Made

The movie teaches alot about finding your way home and its goodn to have people help you.This movie is one of the best moovies and family film ever produced.May this movie shall never be forgotten..

The Wizard Of Oz.

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written bybwayboy January 20, 2011
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

A timeless classic: one of the best ever made

This is my absolute favorite movie and has been since I was 2. My babysitter showed me it when I was 2 and I loved it. It's so imaginative and fun everyone will love it for ever more. It is one the best films ever made and nothing can compare. With great music and design it still will amaze today's audience. The scariness isn't that bad. Even when I was two I never was afraid of the Witch or monkeys (Just the MGM lion in the beginning). Watch this movie you'll love it

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Top Kids' Movies: An Essential Guide for Families