A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Positive messages about love, family, the power of good over evil, sacrifice for the greater good, and the dangers of judging a book by its cover. Willow's journey also underscores the value of perseverance, the struggle for good, and doing the right thing in the face of great odds.
Positive Role Models
Willow demonstrates courage, integrity, perseverance, and teamwork. Madmartigan is flawed and makes mistakes but is loyal and brave when it counts. Sorsha has conflicting loyalties but ultimately makes the right choice.
Cast is almost all White, but the film stands out for its inclusion of little people, who rarely get such three-dimensional roles. While it does fall into the cliché of having actors with dwarfism appear in a fantasy setting, Warwick Davis' Willow is a main character -- a hero with doubts and fears yet incredible inner strength. He has a loving wife and kids, and the entire community of Nelwyns is cast with short-statured actors, which avoids tokenizing any one actor with dwarfism. From a gender standpoint, men like Willow and Madmartigan may be the main heroes, but female characters including baby Elora, warrior Sorsha, wise elder Raziel, and villain Queen Bavmorda all have important roles.
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Violence & Scariness
Sword fighting, hand-to-hand combat, punching, magical battles, deaths (including sympathetic characters). Dead bodies on display, including decapitated heads on stakes and skeletons in cages. Scenes show innocent villagers -- including children -- crying and running in fear. Scary villain in a skull-like mask. Threats against a baby, and evil characters prepare to perform a deadly ritual on the child (creepy imagery). A dog-like beast attacks a character; it's assumed they die, but nothing is shown. In a big battle, a troll turns into a grotesque, two-headed monster that thrashes a dead body between its teeth. A troll's skin peels apart to reveal a brain-like organ, from which slimy tentacles with razor-sharp teeth burst out. Despite all of the above, actual blood appears in small amounts -- mainly during battle scenes -- and is never gory. Sexual harassment includes a man cornering someone under cover as a woman; he gropes a false breast and lewdly asks, "Want to breed?"
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Romantic kissing. One scene hints that Madmartigan was involved with another man's wife. A love potion makes Madmartigan spout wildly romantic phrases at a woman. A man gropes at the breast of one of the lead characters who's disguised as a woman. Sexual innuendo: Character talks of how he's "still got it where it counts." A drunk man corners a character and lewdly asks, "Want to breed?"
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"Peck" is frequently used as a condescending term for Nelwyns (the film's fantastical species portrayed by little people). Once: "jackass." Also "hell," "stupid." In one scene, a drunk man corners a character and lewdly asks, "Want to breed?"
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Raucous drunken behavior in a pub: pushing and shoving, breaking glasses, near-fights. A character falls into a vat of beer and then walks and speaks in a drunk manner into the next scene.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Willow is the beloved 1980s fantasy adventure that inspired a TV series almost 25 years later (also starring Warwick Davis). The movie stands out for its positive portrayals of little people, who make up the film's fictional race of "the Nelwyn." Expect lots of intense scenes of battle and conflict, some of which are lightened with humor. An evil queen (Jean Marsh) yells and threatens to kill a baby, plus some scary dog-like beasts and soldiers storm a village of innocents -- including kids -- but no one is shown seriously hurt. Some battles result in apparent deaths; there's a little blood, but nothing is lingered on or explicit. A couple of monsters are pretty creepy and put beloved characters in peril. Dead bodies, skeletons, and heads on pikes appear regularly, though without blood. In one scene, a man gropes at the breast of one of the lead characters who's disguised as a woman. There's some romantic kissing and a hint of infidelity. Expect a drunk character and a bit of potty humor, including use of the word "pee pee," a baby vomiting in a man's face, and gags involving animal feces. 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 beloved 1980s adventure will surely be of interest to any fantasy lover. There's no more violence in Willow than in Harry Potter or Star Wars -- in fact, there's probably less. Directed by Ron Howard and based on a story by George Lucas, it's a great film for kids interested in magical movies.
The story is easy to follow and full of school-age humor, and the two brownies (played by Kevin Pollak and Rick Overton) provide comedy with their slapstick, strange voices, and snappy one-liners. Lucas' fantasy has interesting-looking characters and villages, gothic castles, and, most of all, magic. Don't expect big surprises; it's pretty clear who's good and who's evil. Some kids may want to fast-forward through the fight scenes, but Willow is an excellent choice to give children a taste of fantasy. And hey, if they become fans, they can also watch the TV series, released almost 25 years after the original film.
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