By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Disney movie about teacher for the deaf; some bullying.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Meant to entertain rather than educate.
Disabilities don't have to hold people back.
Positive Role Models
Henry and his classmates try hard to learn to speak, despite many telling them they won't be able to.
Violence & Scariness
School kids are mean to each other. A boy hits a bigger and older student who can't defend himself. A student runs away and is hit by a train. A child dies of an illness.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two adults kiss.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Amy is a 1981 made-for-TV Disney movie set in an early 20th century rural school for deaf and blind children. A woman breaking out of a stifling marriage and recovering from the death of her child teaches speech to deaf children in an era when speech for the deaf was thought near impossible. Women's self determination is the underlying subject as she has escaped from a controlling, rich husband to find fulfillment in worthwhile work. The cast features many kids, which might make this attractive to a younger audience. Adults kiss. Some bullying. A child succumbs to an illness and another is hit by a train, but no gore is shown.
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Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
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What's the Story?
Beautifully-dressed AMY, the title character played by Jenny Agutter, takes her leave from a large, well-appointed home, leaving a good-bye note with her thick gold wedding band on top. Soon she's teaching at an under-financed rural school serving deaf and blind children. Having trained at a progressive Boston school, she wants to teach deaf children to speak, a controversial notion at the time. She has the headmaster's support, but meets resistance from the staff and the school's funders, who aren't convinced until she makes progress with several students. Her love interest is the cheerful local doctor (Barry Newman) who adores kids and teaches the boys to play football, leading to a win against a local school. Amy's husband finds her and tries to order her home; will Amy find the strength to stand up to him?
Is It Any Good?
This is probably not going to be a kid's top choice for movie night. It's the kind of feature that Disney used to be known for, when all the studio's perfectionism was directed toward its unparalleled animated work, relegating its live-action films to second-class status, suitable nevertheless for children's consumption. A few moments of mild peril may frighten the youngest viewers, but the perseverance and hard work of the teachers and blind and deaf students may prove inspiring. Older kids used to higher production values and less simplistic plotting will probably give Amy a pass.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about whether attitudes have changed much about people with disabilities since the early 20th century when Amy takes place.
Why do you think the head of the regular school didn't want his football team to play the team from the school for the deaf and blind? What was he afraid of?
Do you think many women who could have made contributions to society were held back by prejudice against women over the years? How do you think people can fight such prejudices?
- In theaters: March 20, 1981
- On DVD or streaming: June 28, 2011
- Cast: Jenny Agutter, Barry Newman
- Director: Vincent McEveety
- Studio: Disney+
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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