Little Monsters



Beetlejuice wannabe with potty talk, a bit of heart.
  • Review Date: October 24, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1989
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.


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."


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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:April 6, 1989
DVD release date:April 6, 2005
Cast:Daniel Stern, Fred Savage, Howie Mandel
Director:Richard Greenberg
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Friendship, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:adult situations/language, violence

This review of Little Monsters was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old December 8, 2010

Oh, just another kids movie, nothing to... *sees the head removal scene* Oh my sweet lord... ABORT, ABORT ALL PARENTS!

This movie is what is known as nightmare fuel. I saw this and thought typical kiddie flick. There was no moral, all profanity, scary creatures, and even A KID HAVING HIS HEAD TORN OFF! When I saw that scene, I gasped! I do not gasp that easy... The kid's head was just torn off... To recap, avoid this thing like the black plague, and if you will excuse me, I'm going to try to wash my mind of the horror. Thanks for reading!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Kid, 9 years old September 7, 2012


This was the worst movie eeeeevvvvveerrrr how can this be for kids 8 and up do you think a little kids head getting torn off is appropriate for 8 year olds the dumbmovie doesn't even have a s moral. All it is is a movie ment to scare kids whatever company made this movie boooooooo hiss I'd give it -73,00 stars if I could. They make the movie sound silly but parents don't be fold and DON'T pick this movie for family movie night that's how they get you me and my 3 year old cousin fell for the trap we thought it would be funny but boy were we wrong,we both busted out in tears when the little kids head got torn off. We watched this garbage right before bed. Watching this movie at daytime is already enough but before bed,and even worse there was a funny part in the middle and like one minute after it got all scary . All this garbage is about is kids going to bed and there's monsters under the bed . The moral is scary the moral is going under your bed and losing body parts booooo.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
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 dubbed so there was nothing bad I remember hearing. I bought the movie on DVD some years ago and I seriously cannot believe how much bad language is in it!!! Especially for a movie targeted towards kids. But - the movie is very fun and entertaining. Little brother Eric (Played by Ben Savage) hears noises and sees shadows in his bedroom which have him screaming half the night. He convinces his older brother Brian (played by Fred Savage - Ben's real-life brother) to switch bedrooms with him so he can prove there really are monsters. From there on, Brian discovers a real-life monster under his bed (Played by Howie Mandel). The two soon become best friends when Maurice the monster introduces Brian to his secret under world where only monsters rule. In monster world, there are no rules or adult supervision. After spending most of his time with Maurice, Brian learns that he is actually turning into a monster himself! Now the language is persistent (lots of uses of the word sh*t by kids, holy sh*t, p*ss, hell, b*tch, @ss, goddamn). Sexual references (Maurice pulls Brian's pants down and a girl monster says "Nice @ss!) some references to sex but not too graphic (like playing with yourself, a man's best friend is his right hand, reference to the playboy channel...etc) a boy crushes on a girl. Lots of violence (kid gets his eyes pushed in and his head ripped off, kids get bullied, violent monster play, explosives, monster pees in a school boy's apple-juice bottle, kids play pranks on each other...etc). The scare factor is huge for youngsters, it's super scary with frightening situations (a new born baby is terrorized by scary monsters for fun), the Master Monster "Boyd" is very scary and mean. Overall, the film is super funny and cool but the bad stuff is mainly humorous and fantasy - probably overlooked by most children. Watch it first before letting your young ones see it. For mature ages 9 and up but better targeted toward tweens and teens!
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide