Parents' Guide to

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Fantastic, but kids are older, themes are darker.

Movie PG 2004 141 minutes
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 57 parent reviews

age 10+

I gave 4 stars to the first two, but this one is too problematic. Watch out, glorifies revenge/ illegal acts and emphasizes there will be no consequences. Improper roles for teachers. Poor role models and character flaws all around.

The violence is pretty much the same, I didn't think it was darker, except a possessed character who sounds like she has multiple spirits in her as she's uttering a prophecy. However the questionable morals become a bit more on the nose, and as I said it's filled with character flaws and poor role models. You have two bad (but not truly evil, I'll save that for the Dark Lord and his most devoted sneaky followers) characters begging for mercy and one of them is very insecure and they want to destroy his soul, an assassination isn't good enough for him. At first I thought the main character Harry wanted to make sure he had a fair trial by asking people not to kill him, but it became apparent that he wanted a more intense death--just for being a tattle tale. Another one is just a kid with some pride issues and he's crying and begging for mercy and they punch him while he's in a vulnerable position saying "that felt good" and talk about how awesome it was. It's not the only time he's harassed, another time the main character goes invisible and torments him (it's mostly playful thankfully). All three children are poor role models this time. I had to bump the stars down because they don't have anything going for them this time around. Harry steals a lollipop with absolutely no just motivation--I'm guessing the goal is to show you where he is when he's invisible (he's not supposed to be on the field trip because he doesn't have a signature on his permission slip), snoops as well as being nosy in person (trying to grab something from Hermione, and she slaps his hand back), and refuses to apologize for terrorizing a relative by being extremely rude with no solutions out of it: kind of a step down for him from being the underdog you sympathize with. The wizard government has to bail her out and he just runs away--thankfully to school early but his relatives really think he's going to truly run away and he lets them think that. He's told that there's no legal consequences for "blowing up" one's aunt because the goverment feels sorry for him for another unrelated cause. What's that supposed to teach children? Or when he knocks out a teacher (whom he also insults earlier, ableit with help from others, with an "abnormally large nose" comment)? Harry also spends a lot of time alone with a teacher for secret private lessons, although they are good lessons, in real life this might not be safe. A teacher could be all, let me give you some private lessons to ease your troubles, and a child could be thinking oh just like Professor Lupin, I'll be cool like my favorite character, instead of oh my: just like a predator!!! Hermoine was really starting to move from insecure to role model in the last movie, but in this one you don't look up to her as much, you start to get the feeling that she's teacher's pet because she's given a benefit other students apparently aren't supposed to know about. She's also incredibly rude, trying to embarass a hippie (is that the right word here?) teacher indirectly for her weird beliefs and of course the punching scene and the focus on how good it felt (I would imagine it doesn't feel good on the knuckles or the conscience since he was begging for mercy and not in a position where they needed to defend themselves from bad guys attacking them--they only taunted them a little), she also doesn't solve any problems that I can remember which is disappointing. Her calling someone a "foul loathsome evil little cockroach" feels out of character--yes she used to be a bit of an accidental snob in movie one but it feels like she's reimbracing it on purpose for not-so-innocent reasons. First the teacher and now a classmate, just anyone she doesn't like the beliefs of apparently. She went from being gossipped about in the first movie to loudly making fun of a teacher herself in the halls, come on Hermione you know better! In this one the adults are behind most of the problem solving, that childhood creative charm is gone. Instead the children just live in fear of death all the time. Hagrid is a careless teacher, but you are supposed to just lap it up because you feel sorry for what happened to him in the past. No one seems to care that he just forces a student to ride an animal in something far more dangerous than a roller coaster with no saddle--he doesn't get fired for it. Great, teachers can just do whatever they want even if it makes you feel uncomfortable! Another teacher leaves because he has a disability that's found out. The head boy is also pretty rude, "out of my way, I'm head boy!" There's still a lot of fear of the Dark Lord, to the point where Harry still can't say his name or even fear him around adults (fear that he'll just reveal he's afraid of him causes class to be canceled). Ron is just Ron, more of the same stuff you'd expect from movie 2: swearing, not the brightest crayon, continuing to disrespect Hermione some of the time, flirting, and even lying to a girl's attention (they might have to chop off my leg). We were kind of done for a while after this movie especially since the next one will be PG-13. I'm not trying to be nitpicky, some of these flaws actually give the movie depth and portray a world that's not perfect and still learning, but they are discussion points that will be easier if your child is a preteen OR you might just want to stop at movie 2 as the series gets more rushed and less enjoyable after this anyway. This movie has some interesting parts though, just nothing as morally redeeming except the realization that people can have unjust things happen to them and people shouldn't be quick to judge, but you get that in nearly all of the HP movies. Wife of the user writing here, I was going to do 3 stars, but the more I thought about it disappointing at 2 stars does describe it better. There is a potential for children to tolerate teacher abuse and become abusers themselves. Also beware, the credits afterwards have some easter eggs with the footprints moving around, some people get into questionable situations.

This title has:

Too much violence
3 people found this helpful.
age 12+

We love the Harry Potter movies! But the appropriate AGE bracket can be tricky...

I was pretty upset when within the first 6 minutes of the movie, and Aunt describes Harry Potter like he's a dog, and his mother as the "bitch" (female dog). Most children know this word as a curse or swear word. Luckily I only allowed my 11 year old to watch this, but she paused the movie in complete shock and came to tell me what was said in the film. I was very disappointed, because this should be included in the LANGUAGE section of the rating!! I could've had the discussion with my child prior to her viewing the film.

This title has:

Great messages
3 people found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (57):
Kids say (264):

Harry Potter is 13 in this third movie based on the globally popular book series, and the movie itself seems to be entering adolescence, with its darker themes, darker images, and darker emotions. For Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chris Columbus, who directed the first two movies, stayed on as a producer. The brilliant production design and meticulous attention to detail established by Columbus ensured that the books' passionate fans were happy -- but played it safe.

The new director, Alfonso Cuarón, has previously demonstrated ferocious visual flair (Great Expectations) and great sensitivity in working with and portraying children (A Little Princess) and teens (Y Tu Mamá También). He's kept the best of the first Potter films and enriched it with his own splendid vision, meshing perfectly with the tone of the story and the increasing complexity of the themes and characters. The third in the series is darker than the first two, but it has the same magical qualities that Potter fans will love.

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