A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Oliver! provides a sense of what life was like for orphans in the mid-19th century in England and highlights the income disparities between economic classes. The film also exposes kids to the work of Charles Dickens.
In the right environment, a boy can be taught right from wrong.
Positive Role Models
In spite of seeing Oliver with other street urchins seeming to try to pick his pockets, Mr. Brownlow takes the boy into his home to adopt him, believing that Oliver can change for the better in a more stable and richer environment.
Violence & Scariness
Street urchins are pushed and kicked by corrupt adults, but no one appears injured. A woman is hit with a cane and left for dead by her husband. The blows are not shown, but the man is shown swinging the cane as her screams are heard. A man is shot and killed. A boy is kidnapped, tied up. and thrown into the back of a wagon.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Street urchins smoke pipes, and their evil overseer pours them cups of gin. In a pub, poor adults drink alcohol and sing pub songs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Oliver! is a lavish 1968 adaptation of the Broadway musical based on the classic Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. It's warm and memorable -- and won six Oscars, including Best Picture -- but some of the scenes depicting street urchins and the poor of London in the mid-1800s might be troublesome for some families. Some of the younger characters are shown smoking pipes, and their "employer," the notorious Fagin, leader of their gang of pickpockets, has them drink gin. There are also scenes were poor people sing and carouse in a tavern. The film is over two-and-a half hours long, which could be an issue for younger viewers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
With many truly glorious songs and stellar performances, this 1968 film version of the Broadway musical earned six Oscars. Although young Oliver is truly alone in the beginning of the film, Fagin and the boys give him a sense of family, singing warmly to him that he's to "consider yourself one of us!" They're the first to see him as an individual instead of as a troublesome animal, and the first to give him any affection.
On the less warm-and-fuzzy side, there are some truly nefarious adult characters in Oliver!. Bill Sikes is entirely amoral, willing to do anything to further his own interests. Orphanage manager Mr. Bumble and undertaker Mr. Sowerberry, both considered by themselves and those around them to be sterling, law-abiding citizens, aren't much better. Like Bill, they have no compunctions about putting their own interests first, no matter what the cost is to others. But Nancy and Fagin have limits. They'll engage in small crimes, but have some sense of fundamental integrity.
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.