Pocahontas

Movie review by
Scott G. Mignola, Common Sense Media
Pocahontas Movie Poster Image
Fine for kids; just don't expect a history lesson.
  • G
  • 2000
  • 81 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 28 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational value

The story is historically inaccurate, so many of the "facts" gleaned here are incorrect. Moreover, the fact that the language barrier is a flimsy, quickly-forgotten non-issue is unrealistic.

Positive messages

Pocahontas makes a point to educate John Smith about his use of the word "savages." He assumes that because her people live simply that they are not sophisticated, when in fact, her people use their communication skills in a far more advanced way than John Smith's colleagues do. There are messages that might confuse youngest viewers, such as Governor Ratcliff's assertion that "A man is not a man unless he knows how to shoot."

Positive role models & representations

Pocahontas' father is a caring father to his head-strong daughter. He takes her words very seriously when making a decision. The leadership shown in the British camp is not as thoughtful, or kind.

Violence & scariness

Two Native Americans are shot, one fatally, in poignant scenes. Pocahontas's father nearly executes John Smith during a climactic scene. Much of the plot revolves around two warring factions: the conquerors and the native people. Expect to see knives sharpened and brandished, swords, muskets, and shootouts where men die from bullet wounds. There are perilous scenes on a ship in the ocean, where a man nearly drowns.

Sexy stuff

Considering that this movie is marketed toward the kindergarten set, the long kisses that Pocahontas and John Smith share are pretty steamy. The pair are immediately intimate in their body language, which is also rather mature for the audience.

Language

"Dirty savages,"" filthy heathens," "greedy demons" are phrases that either side uses to make a point about the enemy. A song about savages and the threat of war drives the point home.

Consumerism

Pocahontas is a Disney Princess, whose brand reaches far and wide. Expect to see Princess branding on consumer merchandise, food products, etc. as well as in books, websites, and other media.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

There is a scene on board the ship where a keg of wine is uncorked and men fill their mugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the dreamy, music-laden love-story might be engaging to certain fans of the mid-90's Disney heroine, but the violence is something for parents to keep an eye out for. Furthermore, the historical inaccuracy might confuse viewers who think that the historical figure Pocahontas fell in love with John Smith. She did not: she was a 10-year old child when John Smith's ship landed.

User Reviews

Parent of a 2 year old Written byslm76 September 8, 2009
This movie is rated G but I don't see how. It has a tremendous amount of violence and fighting, which is really the main plot of the movie. The British wan... Continue reading
Adult Written bynduns April 17, 2011

Kind of average, really

Ah yes, we all remember the Disney Renaissance as the best time for Disney films. However, there were two particular films that, at least in my eyes, came acro... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byFirebirds Daughter December 16, 2010

It's WRONG. It's ALL WRONG.

This movie was so historically inaccurate, it made my brain hurt. None of this happened. Pocahontas fell in love with (and married and had a son with, might I a... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byBlueDragonMaster98 June 6, 2010

you decide

It's very, very inaccurate, so you can throw education out the window. But it does show a kid-friendly view of the Native American genocide caused by the E... Continue reading

What's the story?

Disney's animated POCAHONTAS centers on the titular daughter of Algonquin chief Powhatan, who isn't happy with her upcoming arranged marriage to Kocoum. British settlers arrive in the area, and Pocahontas (voiced by Irene Bedard) falls for John Smith (Mel Gibson). Meanwhile, greedy Governor Ratcliffe (David Ogden Stiers) is certain the Native Americans have access to gold riches and is determined to get his hands on the treasure. Pocahontas and John Smith meet in secret, and when they're discovered it creates a dangerous tension between the Europeans and the Algonquians. The only hope for preventing war lies with Smith and Pocahontas.

Is it any good?

Given a choice, children will lean toward The Lion King's menagerie of cute talking animals before embracing this history-based tale from Disney, but that doesn't mean you should pass it up. Sensing a hard sell, the Disney folks dropped in a couple of merchandising lures, a frisky raccoon, and a scene-stealing hummingbird who contribute nothing of import to the story, but succeed in livening up what might otherwise have been a fairly somber tale.

This is a movie less concerned with booing the bad guys as it is with cheering on the heroes. The villain isn't a single entity; Governor Ratcliffe embodies the greed, ignorance, and hostility that still haunts our world four hundred years later. Children will sense that, and learn that peace and tolerance are goals well worth striving for.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the film's historical inaccuracies. For example, the Union Jack hadn't yet been adopted in the early seventeenth century. Do such details bother you?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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