A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids will learn the value of looking at a situation from more than one perspective, as well as the important lesson that people are often more than what they seem.
The movie's over-arching message is to not allow greed and hatred to blind you from love and generosity. If Maleficent had let go of her anger at being jilted, she wouldn't have cursed Aurora, and if Stefan hadn't been so greedy and hurtful, the kingdom and the moors could have lived in peace. Aurora's journey is about staying in the light, even when surrounded by darkness.
Positive Role Models
Aurora is a sweet, kind girl who's curious and loves the creatures of the moors, just like young Maleficent, who was brave and protective of her fellow fairies and creatures. Maleficent is both a villain and a hero, because she had reasons to be bitter and unkind and is eventually remorseful for the hateful way she cursed baby Aurora. Against all odds, Maleficent is able to love again when she sees what a smart and generous young woman Aurora has become. Diaval is a loyal and truth-telling servant/helper to Maleficent.
Violence & Scariness
The movie's tone becomes quite dark, and there are some genuinely jump-worthy/scary scenes -- like when Maleficent realizes that her wings have been cut off (a brutal scene that's reminiscent of sexual assault in some ways), as well as the various battles between the kingdom and the creatures of the moors, including the climactic fight between Maleficent, the king's guards, and the king himself. The three fairies can be physical with each other -- pulling one another's hair, hitting, and slapping -- but it's usually portrayed in a humorous manner. People die on and off camera, including one key character who plunges to his death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple of kisses, including a romantic kiss between Aurora and a prince.
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Rare uses of insult language like "imbecile" and "idiot."
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Products & Purchases
While there are no product placements in the movie, there are promotional tie-ins to merchandise including apparel, toys, accessories, and games.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Maleficent is Disney's retelling of its iconic animated princess movie Sleeping Beauty from the villain's point of view. Audiences will learn the reasons why the "evil fairy" (played by Angelina Jolie) is so bitter and resentful at not being invited to baby Aurora's welcoming party that she curses the infant princess. Far more so than the animated original (which itself is often too scary for younger kids in the preschool age bracket), this live-action version can get quite dark and may frighten younger kids, particularly during violent action sequences between the kingdom and the magical creatures of the moors. Characters die (or look dead) or are injured, and Maleficient is an intimidating figure. It's also very upsetting when her wings are cut off. But the movie's overall message -- about redemption and love -- is positive, and giving Maleficient more depth and context will help kids sympathize with her. As long as your kids can handle the battles, they'll probably enjoy this new take on a classic Disney villain. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Plenty of this retelling is visually spectacular, with amazing special effects and lush scenery: The moors at their brightest are sweet and enchanting, while the kingdom is a drab and imposing place. Between the art design, the costumes, and the immaculate CGI-aided make-up (has an actress ever had such razor-sharp cheekbones as Jolie in this film?), Maleficent is a true feast for the eyes, which is no surprise, given director Robert Stromberg's history as a visual effects specialist.
Plot wise, however, the movie is a bit of a letdown. Jolie is wonderful at being (justifiably) mean -- with her sharp face, scary green eyes, and clipped speaking tones -- and she's good at delivering the dry one liners. But to reduce her story to the cliche of a jilted and jealous ex-girlfriend is slightly disappointing and undercuts the movie's other message: that you should strive to stay in the light, even when surrounded by darkness. While younger kids might be alternately scared or bored, older kids and adults might wish for a little more enchantment to go along with the effects. Still, Fanning, so lovely and bright-eyed, is well cast as teen Aurora, and worth seeing opposite Jolie.
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.