A Midsummer Night's Dream Movie Poster Image

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Sumptuous version, both earthy and enchanted.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 116 minutes

What parents need to know


Very mild.


Some, including brief nudity.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking and intoxication.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is some earthiness (including an inexplicit scene of Puck relieving himself, some brief nudity, and Hermia's firm resolve not to have sex with Lysander until they are married).

What's the story?

Four couples sort out their romantic entanglements in Shakespeare's most magical love story. Hermia (Anna Friel) and Lysdander (Dominic West) love each other, but her father wants her to marry Demetrius (Christian Bale). Demetrius loves Hermia, but is loved by her friend Helena (Calista Flockhart). When Hermia and Lysander run off together, Demetrius chases after them, with Helena chasing him. Meanwhile the Queen of the Fairies, Titania (Michelle Pfeiffer), and her King, Oberon (Rupert Everett), argue over custody of a changeling child. The local Duke Theseus (David Strathairn) prepares for his marriage to Hippolyta (Sophie Marceau), and a group of workmen rehearse a play to perform at the wedding celebration. With the help of the mischievous Puck (Stanley Tucci), Oberon exposes his queen to a potion that causes people to fall in love with whomever they first see after they wake up. The queen falls in love with a man who has a donkey's head. But Lysander and Demetrius are exposed, too, and fall in love with the neglected Helena, forgetting all about Hermia. But by morning, everything is sorted out, and the wedding festivities end with the workmen's remarkable play.

Is it any good?


Filmed several times before, most famously with James Cagney as Bottom and Mickey Rooney as the Puck, this sumptuous version of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM manages to be both earthy and enchanted. The cast includes Hollywood royalty (Michele Pfeiffer as Fairy Queen Titania, theater-trained performers (including Ally McBeal's Calista Flockhart and and Kevin Kline, magnificent as Bottom the would-be actor), international stars Sophie Marceau and Rupert Everett, and "new vaudevillian" and MacArthur genius grant award-winner Bill Irwin. The resulting mix of acting styles clashes at times, as does the mix of music and the switch of setting from ancient Athens to 19th century Tuscany, arias and all. Ultimately, though, it is charming, an accessible introduction to the works of that guy in the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Kids will enjoy the movie more if they have some basic introduction to the plot.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about may want to talk about an era in which a father could order his child to marry the person he chose, about "the course of true love," and how people work out the problems in relationships. Older kids may like to talk about the metaphor of an enchanted forest as a place to find self-knowledge and to resolve issues.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 14, 1999
DVD/Streaming release date:April 15, 2003
Cast:Calista Flockhart, Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director:Michael Hoffman
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:116 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some sexual content

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Teen, 15 years old Written byOfficial Critic May 31, 2012

Dull, boring, irritating, one movie you should skip out

Boring, lame and dull. It's so long (since it is so boring), with irritating voices and a stupid plot. There are no funny scenes, no action scenes, NOTHING. Just a complete dull movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Teen, 13 years old Written bydurf15 May 14, 2012

a little inappropriate

OK, first there is more than one scene of nudity, both male and female, although most of it is hard to see, it also has a few bad words too.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 16 years old Written byBestPicture1996 May 1, 2012

Faithful adaptation

After reading the book (which can be tedious at times, but you're glad you tackled the classic at the end) I can report that it was very true to the source, Shakespeare's language in it remained. The acting is fine, especially Kline and Tucci who seem to have the most fun with their roles. There's a startling amount of nudity in this movie, which surprised me when they showed it at school.
What other families should know
Too much sex