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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has two deaths (including a really sad one), scary creatures, some romantic yearnings, and edge-of-the-seat scenes. With each film the scariness quotient increases. This movie features fighting dragons, tortured bugs, a scary huge maze, and an underwater horror show. Young kids who don't understand the difference between fantasy and reality should stay clear. So should kids going through an anxious time about unnamed terrors or unwanted separations, as one of the death scenes is upsetting. The action is sometimes rowdy, and camera movements/edits are aggressive, all of which increase the scary effects. One of the deleted scenes featured on the DVD shows teen couples after the Yule Ball getting caught kissing, etc., in carriages -- it's a little more sexual content than you get in the feature film.
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What's the story?
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE is the first PG-13 movie in the Harry Potter series, and not for nothing. Harry and friends are 14 now and growing up fast, noticing the opposite sex, and realizing what huge expectations the wizarding world has for them during dangerous times. This year, Hogwarts hosts stars from two other schools -- Beauxbatons Academy and Durmstrang Institute -- for the Triwizard Tournament. The Tournament contestants are selected by the magical Goblet of Fire; they must fight dragons, spend an hour underwater with merpeople, and find their way out of a maze. In the end Harry faces fear and pain not sanctioned by the Triwizard committee. He's on his own against his true enemy, and his uneasy transition to adult hero figure is palpable.
Is it any good?
The fourth film in the Harry Potter series tends to move steadily from plot point to plot point, ensuring that each beloved character from the novel gets at least a brief moment on screen. When Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) attend the Quidditch World Cup, they witness the full-on effects of sports celebrity: fans cheer and stomp their feet, magical images of the star shimmer over the crowd. The fact that the World Cup site is destroyed by Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters hardly brings pause.
The Triwizard Tournament extends the movie's thematic interest in celebrity. In due course, Harry is exposed to cheating (by adult coaches who mean for their charges to win) and not a little bit of emotional and physical abuse (he's a wizard and quite ingenious, so perhaps the awful stuff is not so awful to him though). The movie makes us ask whether 14- or 17-year-old kids should have to be warriors and survivors. Harry and his friends must undergo pain, work through fear, and even decide whether to fight back or inflict pain. Growing up is a difficult transition on-screen or off, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire makes being a teen look pretty unpleasant. That being said, this film is as good as the others in the series, and kids and teens old enough to handle the scary elements will surely enjoy it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire's more mature content and who this movie is targeted to. Young kids are going to want to see this -- should the movie have been toned down or is the violent content appropriate given the age of the characters?
For kids who read the book the film is based on, which plot points got left out that you missed? Why do you think they left out the house elves? What role did they serve in the books?
Cheating is rampant among the teachers and judges involved in the Triwizard competition, but not among the competitors. Why do you think this is?
- In theaters: November 18, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: March 7, 2006
- Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
- Director: Mike Newell
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 156 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images.
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