Bedknobs and Broomsticks

 
(i)

 

Delightful Disney charmer may be too long for youngest.
  • Review Date: May 19, 2003
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1971
  • Running Time: 140 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Older kids might learn a bit about World War II and the Blitz.

Positive messages

The main character works hard to make a difference in the war effort. Along the way, she cooperates with others, and comes to understand the value of family and the wisdom of children. But these messages are clouded with subtle, but outdated ideas about women's abilities and an attitude toward war that might seem unfamiliar to modern kids.

Positive role models

The main adult character, while quirky, is strong, confident, and determined to make a positive difference. She's kind and respectful to the children and encourages the kids to be helpful. The secondary adult character is a bit of a swindler, but he's thoroughly reformed by the end. The older boy starts out very sassy, and even tries to blackmail the main character. But, he too, is reformed in the end.

Violence & scariness

The children have been orphaned by the war and Miss Price, the witch, is searching for a magic spell to fight off the Nazis. Several scenes of cartoon violence during a wildly physical soccer match, as well as one real-life scene where the group is threatened with a knife. The final battle scene, where a ghost-like army of knights fights machine-gun wielding Nazis, might be very scary for some kids.

Sexy stuff

Some very mild flirtation between Miss Price and Professor Browne, including the suggestion that they will marry. In the animated portion, male and female fish dance cheek-to-cheek.

Language

The older boy tells his siblings to "shut up."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A cartoon fish smokes a cigar. A main character talks to a child about wanting to go to the pub for a drink.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic Disney movie, re-released for its 25th anniversary, is more than two hours long and better suited for longer attention spans or partial viewings. The framework of the movie -- World War II, Nazi invasions, and bombings in London -- is about as un-child-friendly as it gets, but the film manages to take a lighthearted approach. Main characters never seem frightened by the war or soldiers, though the children talk briefly about losing their parents to the war. The climax of the film involves a drawn-out battle between the main character and a small group of invading Nazis in which the enemy soldiers wield swords and machine guns against her. Despite this apparent violence, no blood is shed, no one is hurt, and the main character retains a smile throughout the entire battle.

What's the story?

Based on the book by Mary Norton (also the author of The Borrowers), this is the story of three children evacuated from London during World War II who find themselves looked after by an apprentice witch, Miss Price (Angela Lansbury). The witch has plans to save England from the Nazis by casting a special spell, which she awaits from the post office. When she receives word that the special spell will not arrive because her witchcraft correspondence college has been closed, she enchants a bedknob and, along with the children, travel by brass bed to London and eventually to the animated world of Naboombu, to find the spell. The children -- Charlie (Ian Weighill), Carrie (Cindy O'Callaghan), and Paul (Roy Snart) -- help Miss Price and her professor, Emelius Browne (David Tomlinson) wrest the spell from the rough-and-tumble animated creatures of Naboombu and then return to the real world to fight off an enemy invasion. Afterward, Miss Price retires from witchcraft and Professor Browne joins the army, but it is clear they have become a family.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Like many classic Disney movies, including Mary Poppins, the more dynamic parts of BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS are interspersed with less compelling scenes, at least for young children. Several scenes focus entirely on adults, including a melancholy song by Miss Price about the benefits of being single, which might lose the attention of the youngest viewers. The animated portion on the island of Naboombu is lots of fun, though. Kids and adults will enjoy the exaggerated characters and their comic shenanigans as they compete in a vigorous soccer match.

But the dance routine in the middle of the movie and the dramatic final battle scene go on too long for even more developed attention spans. Also, the war-time theme and occasional sexist remarks make this film feel dated. Overall, this is a mild, family-oriented comedy about the ability of individuals to make a big difference.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the difference between fantasy and reality, since it may not be clear to many kids.

  • Talk about magic. What kind of magic do you wish you could perform and why?

  • Families can talk about what makes a movie scary besides the story. How does the music or the lighting make you feel?

  • Families can talk about language and accents. Did you find it difficult to understand the British accents? What other kinds of accents are you familiar with?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 13, 1971
DVD release date:March 20, 2001
Cast:Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson, Roddy McDowall
Director:Robert Stevenson
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters
Run time:140 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Bedknobs and Broomsticks was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • World's coolest nanny celebrates family and fun.
  • Charming adaptation with constant (but funny) perils.
  • Outstanding family film features glorious music.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 6 year old Written bydanvar2003 October 17, 2010
 

Appalled that a movie from my childhood has references to true evil

First of all, in a world full of subtle inappropriate content, many failed to notice that the whole premise is based on the book they are seeking. You can check the references yourself, I even find it distasteful to write it here, it is the title of the half book she has from the start of the movie. Also, the references to 'witchcraft' imply paganism. I was actually appalled when I watched part of this with my five year old son thinking it a fun movie from my childhood. Thank the Lord I am educated and armoured to see the scary and subtle messages in this movie. And we wonder what is wrong with our world...parents, be on your guard if you care about the well-being of your children.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 13 years old Written byNarwhalLover13 June 15, 2013
 

;p

I thought it was very good. It had lots of imagination.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Parent Written bymadronemedia April 9, 2008
 

Classic movie with Bizzare Nazi Imagery

I hadn't watched this in many years. The commentary on WWII seems way out of place for a family movie geared at kids.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass