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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, Madeline is a live-action adaptation of the classic children’s book about Madeline, a little girl who lives in a boarding school in Paris. This version presents Madeline as an orphan who expresses an awareness that she has no family and no real home. It also merges elements from the book Madeline and the Bad Hat, including the Spanish ambassador's son, Pepito. Suspenseful scenes include Madeline with appendicitis; an accidental fall into the river; a clownish but perhaps scary kidnapping; a chase with two kids on a motorcycle; and the threat of the girls’ school being closed. A caring woman dies after a long illness and a dog is lost (but eventually reappears). A few instances of insulting language, swearing, and a scene with the little girls having fun with their cook’s undergarments.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
One of the most beloved heroines of children's literature is brought to life in this movie based on the classic series of books by Ludwig Bemelmans about the "twelve little girls in two straight lines" who live in "a small house in Paris that was covered with vines," and especially "the smallest one," Madeline (Hetty Jones). Bemelmans' gorgeous water colors turn into gorgeously photographed Paris, set vaguely in the 1950s, setting the stage for Madeline's nighttime race to the hospital for an appendectomy, her fall into the Seine and rescue by the brave dog Genevive, and her adventures with Pepito, the son of the Spanish ambassador. Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand plays Miss Clavel, the nun who cares for her charges with imagination, wisdom, and love, and courage. Veteran British actor Nigel Hawthorne is stern Lord Covington, who wants to sell the small house covered with vines and close down the school.
Is it any good?
Young children, especially fans of the books, will enjoy the film. Newcomer Hetty Jones is a spunky Madeline, brave enough to say "Pooh Pooh" to a tiger, smart enough to know that if she asks Pepito to be extra quiet he will find some way to do something noisy, and determined enough to find a way to stop Lord Covington from selling the school his late wife loved so dearly.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: July 10, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: December 15, 1998
- Cast: Frances McDormand, Hatty Jones, Nigel Hawthorne
- Director: Daisy von Sherler Mayer
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: momentary language
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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.