Charlotte's Web (1973)

  • Review Date: February 23, 2005
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1973
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Heartwarming tale of love and friendship.
  • Review Date: February 23, 2005
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1973
  • Running Time: 94 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Friendship and love are the center of this film.

Violence & scariness

Wilbur is nearly killed for meat and, though not violent, Charlotte dies at the end.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the theme of the film is the cycle of life and death, which may frighten younger children. Families may want to discuss these themes. How does the movie make the youngest ones feel? How does Wilbur show his love for Charlotte even after she dies?

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Baby pig Wilbur (voiced by Henry Gibson) is the runt of the litter, but a kindly farmer spares his life. Wilbur is befriended by Charlotte (voiced by Debbie Reynolds), a wise spider. When Wilbur learns he's going to be killed for bacon, he's in despair. Charlotte comes up with a plan to save his life. She spins webs with messages that read "Some Pig" and "Radiant." Wilbur becomes a national celebrity, and his life is spared. Unfortunately, Charlotte's life is coming to an end. She spins an egg sack, fills it with hundreds of eggs, and quietly dies. Wilbur guards the sack until Charlotte's babies are born. Most leave, but three stay on the farm, and Wilbur loves them almost as much as he did their mother.

Is it any good?


Based on the classic E. B. White novel, CHARLOTTE'S WEB is a touching story, but it has several flaws: the animation, though good by Hanna-Barbera standards, pales next to even the lesser Disney features; kids with shorter attention spans may find it slow-moving; and some older kids won't buy into the sentimentality. Despite all that, it's a movie well worth sharing with your family, because of its enduring messages about friendship and love.

The movie's barnyard musical menagerie is amusing and child-friendly. Templeton the rat (voiced by a hilariously sly Paul Lynde) has most of the comic highlights, including a rousing song number in which he gluttonously pigs out in a junkyard. Sequences with baby animals will appeal to the youngest members of the audience.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about which people are the most important in each of their lives. What can each person do to show their friends and family that they love them? Families may want to do an art project constructing "webs" of encouraging phrases made of yarn and construction paper fore each member of the family, similar to the ones Charlotte creates for Wilbur.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 1, 1973
DVD release date:August 28, 2001
Cast:Danny Bonaduce, Debbie Reynolds, Paul Lynde
Director:Charles A. Nichols
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Book characters, Horses and farm animals
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Charlotte's Web (1973) was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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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Kid, 11 years old October 17, 2011

charlotte's web, prepare for the flyswatter

One of my most feared animated movies ever seen. The first time I saw this movie was with my class, and every bit of it was a hot mess, from the predictable and foiled acting to the annoying musical numbers, I may have been the happiest at the end...when it all ended. Although that movie was darn funny in ways that people usually wouldn't expect (such as 4 men bowing down to Wilbur, but they look like they got shot), in its elemental premise, it's not much of a treat as you would think of it as. The most annoying 2 songs? Charlotte's "Chin Up" and what I call the Wilbur worship song, BY FAR. A "great" pick for post-toddlers, but one of your worst mistakes letting even just the DVD cover slip into preteen sight.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much consumerism
Kid, 12 years old May 15, 2011

A heartwarming story of friendship is packedinto this movie!

This is a pretty good movie which I am sure most kids will enjoy. Anyone under 6 years old might get really sad or have nightmares because of charlotte dying. But besides that, there was not anything wrong with the movie.
Parent Written bymadmuth October 22, 2011

Well done movie but deals with difficult subject matter

This is the first movie my 4-year-old son has ever seen, and I spent a long time researching it before finally choosing it for our first movie night ever. Compared to most of what's out there, this is a very innocent little film about friendship. However, my sensitive son, who has not been exposed to much in the way of media, was still scared at certain parts. **SPOILERS TO FOLLOW** It bothered him that the farmer was going to kill the pig (he didn't understand at all what a "runt" was or why it would have to be killed). The idea of Wilbur the pig eventually being slaughtered for Christmas dinner also, rightfully, upset him. He was even frightened by the scene where two crows chase a rat who barely gets away--it was too much suspense for him. I realize now, too late, that for a little guy like him this is way too difficult a subject to deal with. He gets just enough of it to be disturbed but not enough of it to understand any of the underlying explanations. I spent quite awhile during and after the movie really trying to highlight the positive messages of friendship etc. to compensate for the rather negative impressions he got. Overall, it's a lovely little movie but it is probably more suited to an older child--at least 5 and maybe 6, depending on their sensitivity to film scenes like those I described above.
What other families should know
Great role models


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