A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the main character's parents are dead, which may be upsetting to young viewers. Kim turns to petty theft to survive instead of living in an orphanage. Part of the story takes place during a battle, and a character dies. Issues of race and caste are thematic.
What's the story?
Kim (Dean Stockwell) is an orphan who lives by his wits in Victorian India. He lives by petty theft and by running small errands for people like Red Beard (Errol Flynn), also a white man who dresses and lives as a native. On his way to deliver a message for Red Beard, Kim meets a mysterious holy man (Paul Lukas), who is searching for a mythical holy river that will cleanse sins. Kim accompanies the holy man as an apprentice to make it easier for him to reach the place where he must deliver Red Beard's message. He becomes fascinated with the holy man, and stays on with him until he is discovered by British officers, who realize that he is the son of a former colleague, and send him to a military orphanage and then to a posh private school, St. Xavier's, where he has trouble fitting in. Kim runs away and returns to native garb. Red Beard's friend trains him in "the great game," espionage, and, reunited with the holy man, he gives crucial aid to the British in the battles along the Afghanistan border.
Is it any good?
KIM is a colorful and exciting story, based on the book by Rudyard Kipling. As in Oliver, Huckleberry Finn, and Aladdin (and Home Alone), it is the story of a boy who must take care of himself in the adult world, and Kim does a reassuringly good job. He even takes good care of the holy man. One theme of interest in the movie is the way that he is able to move back and forth between two different worlds, each apparently requiring different clothes. In one scene, he is able to make himself almost invisible by dying his skin and putting on a turban; even his schoolmate does not recognize him, when he asks for alms. Only one character can tell that he is a fraud; the "fat man," who sees that his beads and belt are wrong.
Talk to your kids about ...
For kids who love adventure
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.