Once Upon a Forest Movie Poster Image

Once Upon a Forest



Sweet critter adventure, but some dark themes as well.
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1993
  • Running Time: 71 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The animal friends of Dapplewood forest start as an unruly bunch, but they come together to help a friend in dire need. 

Positive role models

Teacher Cornelius cares deeply for his students and even adopts a member of his class when her parents pass away.

Violence & scariness

While there are no incidents of hitting or violence among friends, the human activity that surrounds the peaceful confines of Dapplewood wreaks destruction on the animals' environment.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Herbs are used to heal a very sick friend.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Once Upon a Forest is a colorful family movie that plays upon a child's deepest fears: the loss of a family or of home. This fact is glossed over while the friends are sent on an adventure. This lighthearted approach to mass destruction seems a little dated and may upset sensitive kids. The animals of Dapplewood forest start as an unruly bunch, but they come together to help a friend in dire need. 

What's the story?

Life in Dapplewood forest is full of adventure for the friendly critters who live there. Abigail (voiced by Ellen Blain) is a young rat who climbs branches and sneaks up on her father before going to school. Her friends Russell the hedgehog (Paige Gosney) and Edgar the mole (Ben Gregory) all meet her at school one morning for a fun outing that their teacher, Cornelius (voiced by Michael Crawford) has prepared for them. While they are enjoying their daily "ramble," an accident occurs on the nearby highway where a big rig loses its grip on the road, spilling a poison gas that devastates the entire meadow. The friends return home to find that their families are gone and that their classmate, Michelle (Elizabeth Moss) is suffering from poisoning. Cornelius instructs the friends to find specific herbs to heal Michelle, and the three pals go forth across hill and dale to save their friend.

Is it any good?


Based on a Welsh story by Rae Lambert, this mostly pleasant animated feature starts out as an idyllic depiction of forest life. The animal creatures go to school and learn fantastic things like building flying machines. But when human activity mars their environment, the story gets a little big for its britches. The subject of loss is largely glossed over -- and even though the classmates ask about their families, their curiosity is not pressing. Instead, they are instructed by their teacher to find the herbs necessary to save their friend.

The youngest viewers might be frightened by the devastation of the forest and the theme of mass destruction, though the adventure within the tragedy can be enjoyable and lighthearted. Considering the fact that the entire meadow was poisoned, a happy ending is in order. And in this regard, the movie delivers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's environmental message. How do humans affect the homes of creatures like rats, badgers, moles, and gophers?

  • How can we coexist with the creatures that live in our midst? 

  • What forest animals have you seen? Take a nature walk and observe the different creatures you see.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 27, 1993
DVD/Streaming release date:February 27, 2003
Cast:Ben Vereen, Ellen Blain, Michael Crawford
Director:Charles Grosvenor
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Wild animals
Run time:71 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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Educator and Parent Written byCommonSenseChristian February 5, 2013

Too Much Pollution, Not Enough Flowers

This film is a lot like Dapplewood Forest itself: at first idyllic, but quickly becoming darkened and poisoned by its underlying messages. On the positive side, the Furlings are adorable and inventive, and Cornelius comes across as a wise mentor. But on the other hand, as some critics have said, this movie very much drives home its message of respecting nature by teaching children to hate fellow humans. Humans, industry, and development are presented as the antagonists regardless, despite the one redeeming moment of a faceless human helping Furling Edgar. It's a good idea to teach children to respect and conserve the environment. But this can and should be done without all-or-nothing ideology, condemnation, and guilt for their very existence. Also, as one critic noted, the poison gas scene, as well as a couple other scenes, play too much on the loss of parents and homes to make this movie a safe romp for younger kids. Overall, a disappointment.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byMisty72996 May 1, 2010
i grew up watching this movie and i would watch it with my dad almost every night. i would always act like i didnt know what was going to happen so it would be a bit more suspenseful. :)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old August 4, 2009

Very good, on for everyone!

I loved this movie since i was a little baby and I still love it now!!!


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