Messy, dated romantic fantasy is dull and violent.
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.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ladyhawke is a dopey 1985 romantic fantasy that will probably bore most kids and sorely try the patience of most grown-ups. Expect the slashing and impaling common to cinematic portrayals of medieval violence. Blood drips from a victim's mouth but is otherwise scarce. Several people are stabbed or pierced with arrows. One falls though ice into a wintry pond. There is a drunk priest and some mild profanity ("hell" and "damn").
A fun 80s fantasy romance
Report this review
Still a fun watch
Report this review
What's the Story?
A bishop (John Wood) with passionate designs on Isabeau (Michelle Pfeiffer) curses her and the captain she loves (Rutger Hauer) to lifelong misery: He becomes a wolf every night, she becomes a hawk every day. Unable to be together as a couple, they travel in limbo until Philippe, a nimble pickpocket (Matthew Broderick), stumbles on their plight. With the help of a hermetic monk (Leo McKern), who figures out how to end the curse, they evade the bishop's murderous soldiers until day and night somehow intermingle and the good guys prevail.
Is It Any Good?
This overblown, overlong, overacted romantic fantasy is dull and devoid of both wit and good taste. Rock music more suited to an episode of Miami Vice competes with lute melodies without any good reason. In one inexplicable sequence, we view the hawk flying in slow motion to an accompanying heavy rock beat. The characters bear French names, but the accents range from Brooklynese (Broderick says, "I gotta be outta my mind"), faintly Dutch (Hauer), and Californian (Pfeiffer) to legitimately Shakespearean (Wood and McKern). Broderick plays the role with the same ironic detachment as he played Ferris Bueller, a modernity utterly out of place in a tale set during the Middle Ages.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about whether there is such a thing as a curse. What do you think?
The bishop is evil and selfish. How in real life can you fight powerful people who are not doing the right thing?
A pickpocket is scheduled to be executed for his crime. What crime, if any, do you think would merit the punishment of death?
- In theaters: April 4, 1985
- On DVD or streaming: October 29, 1997
- Cast: Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, John Wood
- Director: Richard Donner
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Romance
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence
- Last updated: April 1, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Errol Flynn stars in swashbuckling family delight.
The Court Jester
Terrific family fun.
Entertaining but violent spin on classic story.
For kids who love fantasy
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.See how we rate