A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie is intended to entertain, not educate.
Even in what looks like an extraordinarily bleak situation, thoughtful planning and teamwork can save the day. Ignoring rules can get kids in trouble.
Positive Role Models
The woodcutter and his wife are poor and hungry, but the woodcutter, a loving husband and father, handles the situation in a responsible, helpful way. His wife, though also loving, is depressed and angrily explodes, taking her frustration out on Hansel and Gretel. There are dire consequences for her behavior, and she learns an important lesson. Hansel and Gretel are basically good kids, but when they don't listen to their parents, they pay dearly.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of scary sequences involving an ugly, cackling witch who wields a knife while threatening two lost children with death and the fact that she's planning to fatten them up and then eat them. Ghostly sounds, laughter, and cries for help emanate from a dark forest in several scenes. A duck is boiled and then tossed into a fiery oven. The witch herself suffers the same fate. The witch's gingerbread house blows up and melts, erupting as a volcano with flowing green and red goo. Reference is made to the fact that children have been disappearing in the woods.
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The children are called names by both their mother and the wicked witch: "stupid," "worthless idiot," "foolish boy," etc.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hansel and Gretel is not the 2013 R-rated theatrical release Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Many parts of this live-action fairy tale may be frightening for very young or sensitive kids. The wicked witch is portrayed with blackened teeth and fingernails, warts on her face, wild white hair, and a pointed chin. She's sometimes shot in extreme close-up, with intense eyes glaring into the camera, wild hair flowing, bared teeth, and a cackling laugh. A duck is dropped into a cauldron of boiling water and then into a fiery oven. In the climactic scene, the wicked witch is sent into the boiling pot, then into the oven, and finally is blown up. Other scenes take place in a dark forest and are infused with sounds of ghostly laughter, pleading voices, and pitiful shrieks. Hansel and Gretel's mother is distraught and angry early in the film and berates her children and husband continually. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
HANSEL AND GRETEL could actually be enjoyable and provide a good scare for not-so-sensitive kids who care little for production quality. Among a series of films noted for shoddy production values -- flimsy sets (some of which show up in several of the movies), a mostly amateur cast (also repeat performers), mediocre original songs, and outrageously inept special effects -- this movie stands out, if only because it's smaller in scope and cast, thus less likely to reveal the tackiness of the effort.
Leachman is the witchiest of scary witches, obviously having a wonderful time slavering over the prospect of eating the children. The two young actors are passable, and Warner worries with the best of them. Still, there are some unintentional laughs: a poor duck's (as well as the witch's) emergence from a boiling cauldron is particularly ludicrous, as is the moment when the tasty house erupts in a river of oozing red and green goo.
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.