Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
By Nell Minow,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
First Potter movie is a magical ride but also intense.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Plenty examples of courage, teamwork, and loyalty. Friendship, standing up for others, expressing compassion, generosity, perseverance, and the triumph of the underdog are also strong themes.
Positive Role Models
Harry's relationship with Ron and Hermione demonstrates the idea behind strength in numbers when it comes to friendship. They're able to work together despite their respective flaws, forgive one another for their mistakes, and overcome great challenges. Hermione is studious and unafraid to express how smart she is, earning admiration of her teachers and eventually peers. Harry stands up for those who've been compassionate toward him, as well as those he feels deserve better treatment; he treats people with respect and loyalty. His generous tendencies encourage viewers to use their experiences with adversity in a positive manner.
As one of the most beloved characters in the Harry Potter series, Hermione shines as a multi-dimensional young girl. She's smart and speaks her mind, even when her classmates ridicule her for it. Among the student body at Hogwarts, witches and wizards of color appear, including Harry's fellow Gryffindors Dean Thomas and Lee Jordan, who are both Black. But they have few lines, and their roles aren't central to the plot. Disparities in wealth and privilege are revealed with Ron having less money than Harry, while Draco exudes high-class snobbery, though the issue isn't explored deeply. A Hogwarts teacher Professor Flitwick is played by an actor who was born with the condition spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenital (SED), which caused his dwarfism. The movie, like its source material, plays into fat-phobic stereotypes, depicting villains such as Harry's Uncle Vernon and cousin Dudley as gluttonous and less intelligent.
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Violence & Scariness
Kids are in peril often, mostly from fantasy creatures. A three-headed dog chases Harry and friends. Harry and Draco see a dead, bloody unicorn and are chased by a hooded figure in the Forbidden Forest. Harry and friends fight a troll and knock it unconscious, are nearly crushed by a constricting plant, are chased by flying keys, and pummeled by a life-sized chess board. One character dies by turning to dust. Mostly friendly ghosts roam the halls; the ghost Nearly Headless Nick shows how he got the name. Flashback to the (bloodless) death of Harry's parents and much discussion about how they died and the one who killed them.
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Products & Purchases
While the candy featured in the film wasn't originally real, it is now: Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Jelly Slugs, and more. And then there are the action figures, Lego playsets, wands, clothing, and much more associated with the franchise.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the first movie in the massively popular and successful Harry Potter series (all based on the books by J.K. Rowling), has some intense and scary moments. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and friends -- who are only 11 years old here -- are in peril and get hurt, but not seriously, and most of the scares come from fantasy creatures. There's a flashback to the (bloodless) death of Harry's parents and discussion about how they died and the villain who killed them. Characters show courage, teamwork, and loyalty. Friendship, standing up for others, expressing compassion, generosity, perseverance, and the triumph of the underdog are also strong themes.
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Based on 139 parent reviews
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fine movie, a little scary
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What's the Story?
When HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE begins, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is an orphan who lives with the awful Dursleys, his aunt, uncle, and cousin. On his 11th birthday, Harry receives a mysterious letter, but his uncle destroys it before he can read it. Letters keep coming, and the Dursleys panic and hide away on a remote island. But they're found by Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), a huge, bearded man with a weakness for scary-looking creatures. It turns out that the letters were coming from Hogwarts, a boarding school for young witches and wizards, and Harry is expected for the fall term, so Hagrid whisks him off to begin his new life as a wizard in training. On the train to Hogwarts, Harry meets his future best friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). When school begins, things really get exciting, with classes in Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts, a sport called Quidditch (a sort of flying soccer/basketball), a mysterious trap door guarded by a three-headed dog named Fluffy, and a baby dragon named Norbert. Throughout the year, Harry adjusts to his magical life and begins to come to grips with his famous status in the wizarding world and what he represents to the darker forces there. He also learns some important lessons about loyalty and courage.
Is It Any Good?
This first film in the Harry Potter series is filled with visual splendor, valiant heroes, spectacular special effects, and irresistible characters. It's only fair to say that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is truly magical. The settings manage to be sensationally imaginative and yet at the same time so clearly believable and lived-in that you'll think you could find them yourself, if you could just get to Platform 9 3/4. The adult actors are simply and completely perfect. Richard Harris turns in an excellent performance as headmaster Albus Dumbledore, Maggie Smith (whose on-screen teaching roles extend from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie to Sister Act) brings just the right dry asperity to Professor McGonagall, and Coltrane is a half-giant with a heart to match as Hagrid. Alan Rickman provides shivers as potions master Professor Snape, and the brief glimpse of Julie Walters (an Oscar nominee for Billy Elliott) will make you glad you'll be seeing more of her in future movies. And the kids are all just fine, though here they're mostly called upon to look either astonished or resolute.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the Harry Potter book series that inspired Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and the other movies. Do you like the books or movies better?
Which themes from the first in the series pop up again in later installments?
What do you think about Harry and his friends going away to school? Would you ever want to do something like that?
How do Harry and his friends demonstrate teamwork, perseverance, and courage in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? Why are these important character strengths?
- In theaters: November 16, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: May 28, 2002
- Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
- Director: Chris Columbus
- Studio: Fine Line Features
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 152 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some scary moments and mild language
- Last updated: May 24, 2023
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