Babar: The Movie Movie Poster Image

Babar: The Movie



Animated elephant adventure has some peril.
  • Review Date: January 24, 2013
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1989
  • Running Time: 70 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Introduces kids to the Babar story and could lead to reading the books. Plenty of great social lessons about problem solving and conflict resolution.

Positive messages

The film espouses messages of loyalty, doing the right thing, resolving conflict without violence, treating others with fairness, and paying back kindness with good deeds.

Positive role models

Babar, his cousin Celeste, and their friend Zephir the monkey are all loyal friends who stick by each other, reciprocate kindness, and exhibit compassion. 

Violence & scariness

A relatively brief, but pivotal scene early in the film packed with bloodless violence and high peril: A village burns and elephants run from the flames in distress. Gruff, menacing rhinos wield torches, enslave elephants. Multiple mother elephants are separated from their children, with kids shown crying alone. Babar fights with a few rhinos, and is knocked to the ground a few times. Cousin Celeste is thrown into a well. Elsewhere, a minor scene shows elephants restrained in ropes and chains, being whipped, and there are a few other minor instances of jungle-related fright: a lion baring fangs, a dustup ensues with a mean alligator.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

Babar: The Movie fits within a long line of Babar vehicles, beginning with the initial French book series, and extending to television and film that have produced products such as stuffed animals, clothing, and other character-related merchandise.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Babar: The Movie is a highly entertaining animated adventure with positive messages and fun musical numbers, but with one major scene of troubling violence and peril up front. An elephant village is raided and torched, with multiple instances of elephant mothers and children forcibly separated and in distress, and some elephant/rhino fighting. That issue aside, the movie is a funny and sweet tale of friendship and adventure suitable for any age.

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What's the story?

Babar (voiced by Gavin Magrath), the boy elephant king, must save his cousin Celeste's village, Elephantland, from the ruinous designs of Rataxes and his rhino army, who are set on enslaving the elephants and taking over the village. Along the way, Babar meets a talented monkey, Zephir, with a knack for impersonations and subterfuge, and learns a few important lessons about conflict resolution and the laws of the jungle.

Is it any good?


Based on the 1931 French children's book series, Babar: The Movie is a spirited continuation of the televised HBO series. It's a surehanded blend of action, musical, and frolic that keeps the pace and doesn't overstay its welcome.

Kids will enjoy the elephants and nonstop action, parents will enjoy the clever resolution, and both parents and kids will find themselves humming to the fun sing-alongs, from the song that manages to make bureaucracy sound catchy, "Send It to Committee for Review" to the funny boast "Monkey Business."

Families can talk about...

  • How did Babar outsmart the rhinos without using violence?

  • What other adventures have you seen set in the jungle? Did the animals play by the same rules that Babar and his friends followed?

  • Learn about how animals get along in the jungle by visiting the library and checking out books about the habitat.

Movie details

DVD release date:July 28, 1989
Cast:Elizabeth Hanna, Gavin MacGrath, Gordon Pinsent
Director:Alan Bunce
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Music and sing-along, Wild animals
Run time:70 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Babar: The Movie was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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