Little Monsters

Movie review by
Joly Herman, Common Sense Media
Little Monsters Movie Poster Image
Beetlejuice wannabe with potty talk, a bit of heart.
  • PG
  • 1989
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Some petty science experiments give a glimmer of smart stuff; and there are some moral lessons having to do with loyalty, friendship, and family here, but these arrive after a lot of iffy behavior by monsters and humans alike.

Positive Messages

Though parenting styles have changes a little since  the '80's, some of the yelling, cursing and arguing that Brian and his little brother are subjected to do raise some timeless flags. The monster world is also pretty extreme and chaotic, though Brian makes good choices at the end of the movie. Some positive themes of friendship and imagination.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The parents in this movie are a little too human: arguing in front of their kids, showing their weaknesses. But they clearly love their kids, and apologize for their mistakes. The monsters are a mixed bag, but some of the pranks Maurice pulls are pretty nasty.

Violence & Scariness

Scary monster faces, gross behavior, kids scuffling, and bullying behavior make up most of the rough stuff. Perilous scenes and threatening behavior also can scare sensitive kids, though lots of humor takes the edge off.

Sexy Stuff

Women are portrayed as sex objects on TV and in references made by Maurice (who calls women "tomatoes"). He talks briefly about touching himself.

Language

Considering the age group, there is a good deal of cussing by parents in front of kids -- and by the kids themselves (for example, "holy s--t"). Expect to hear "damn," "Godammit," "s--t," "piss," "hell," "bitch," "caca," and "jerk."

Consumerism

Some blatant product placement: Poloroid photos are taken and mentioned by name. Doritos are the snack that Brian feeds to Maurice. Dad eats Lays potato chips.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Parents drink wine with dinner. A monster bully smokes cigarettes and blows the smoke in characters' faces or threatens to burn vicitms with the butt.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Little Monsters includes some mildly scary and emotional moments, plus some examples of bullying, mean pranks, and some language ("s--t" and "Godammit"). Parents behave poorly, yelling at kids, and eventually the parents separate. The monster world that Brian enters is a place where no rules exist, which means a good deal of immature and chaotic behavior plays out. There are some major gross-out moments, like when Maurice pees into bully's empty apple juice bottle, and the bully later drinks the liquid.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bywonder dove September 16, 2012

Great Underrated Monster Movie!

Let me start off by saying I first watched this movie when my mother taped it on TV when I was around 8. I loved it, and still do. Back then, bad words were dub... Continue reading
Adult Written bybrandyandmike4ever June 23, 2019

Love this movie!

I watched this movie when I was a kid. My 7 year old watched it and didn't get scared. The monsters are funny not scary. Yes it has cussing in it. My kids... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byretro.lover April 25, 2020

Not really for kids under 11- but a great classic

When I first watched it I was 11 and watched it with my dad. What we didn't realize was how much cursing there was for a kids movie. There are also quite a... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byarilouwho December 24, 2018
It was a movie made in 1989. People weren't offended by every little thing, so the swearing in the movie and occasional jokes that would be inappropriate n... Continue reading

What's the story?

Brian's (Fred Savage) family has just relocated to a new town, where he has no friends and spends his nights trying to drown out the sound of his parents fighting. Things start to go wonky around the house and he is blamed for them. But it's not his fault that the remote control is missing, or that his bike was left out in the driveway -- there is a devilish monster under his bed named Maurice (Howie Mandel) who is eager to bring Brian into his wacked out monster world. Through challenges and chaos, the kid and the monster forge a friendship that proves memorable to them both.

Is it any good?

For a movie about monsters, this flick has a bit of heart. It captures the loneliness of a kid who has moved to a new town and whose parents are in a bad way. But some of the arguments and cursing from the parents beg the question of whether their participation is really necessary to the plot of the film, or just an attempt to anchor it in a gritty reality. 

Kids and tweens might appreciate the feisty and juvenile behavior that Howie Mandel's Maurice brings to the screen, but viewers who have seen Beetlejuice will see more than a little resemblance to Michael Keaton's famous ghoul. He does warm up as the movie progresses, but adults might find the characterization little more than an irritant with a penchant for pulling down people's pants. Thanks to the creepy sets, spooky masks, and Fred Savage's candid portrayal of an 11-year-old kid, this movie deserves a small spot in the comedic monster movie pantheon.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about childhood fears. What scares you the most? Something hiding under the bed? What makes the idea of monsters scary? Did you find Maurice scary?

  • At what age is watching scary movies fun? Have you ever wished you hadn't seen something? How did you get the scary images or thoughts out of your mind?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love to be scared

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