A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
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.
Talk to your kids 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.
For kids who love romance
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.