Puff the Magic Dragon

  • Review Date: October 27, 2010
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1978
  • Running Time: 71 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Classic cartoon special is a sweet, positive adventure.
  • Review Date: October 27, 2010
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1978
  • Running Time: 71 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Puff helps kids learn the value of overcoming their fears and believing in themselves.

Positive messages

There are so many positive messages about what it means to be courageous, to have confidence in your own abilities, to not let your fears get the best of you, and more. All of the messages are in the same self-improvement vein.

Positive role models

Puff is a wise old dragon. He knows exactly how to help Jackie see the world through fresh eyes and not be so frightened of everyone and everything. He's a generous, kind-hearted dragon that see the best in Jackie.

Violence & scariness

The clouds are menacing and seem to delight in the death of stars. Puff explains that they're jealous of the stars. There's also a short scene in which a frightening pirate is shown, but he's eventually revealed to be a softie who likes to bake pies.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language

Puff calls the clouds "small-spirited" and "stupid."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic TV special features a magical dragon who helps children in need, based on the popular folk song by Peter, Paul and Mary. The story (there are two lesser known stories on the DVD set) features a boy who these days would be called special-needs -- he never speaks. But with Puff's guidance, he learns how to face his fears. There is nothing that should concern most parents in the story, but Puff does say "stupid," and there are images of a pirate,  menacing clouds, and a dying star (though she survives) that may initially frighten young preschoolers. The score can also be spooky in a couple of scenes. But the iffy stuff is minimal compared to the encouraging messages for kids to believe in themselves.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Based on the popular folk song by Peter, Paul and Mary, PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON is a classic animated television special about Puff (Burgess Meredith), a talking dragon that visits young Jackie Draper, a boy who never speaks, and takes him on an epic adventure. Jackie, whose silence has left his parents worried and experts baffled, is alone in his room when Puff appears to him and creates an identical "alter ego" of him out of paper called "Jackie Paper." He brings Jackie Paper -- who can talk and do things Jackie Draper thinks he can't -- to life with Jackie's "being" and then the two of them set off to find the land of Honalee. Jackie must overcome several obstacles, like facing a pirate and helping a dying star before finally reaching their magical destination. The DVD set also includes two bonus features where Puff appears to a girl and another boy.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Parents who grew up in the '70s or '80s will find this trip down memory lane surprisingly touching. It's easy to forget just how compassionate and sage-like Puff is, especially after you grown up and hear about the song's alleged references to marijuana use. But in the animated movie, the allegory is purely tied to childhood, and the wonder that the imagination of childhood can bring. Meredith's wise, comforting voice infuses Puff with a grandfatherly gravitas that guides young Jackie -- and the viewer -- to show a pirate's true and gentle colors and teaches him that as long as you believe, you can defeat your own fears.

Even after more than 30 years, this tale is timelessly sweet and even tearful in parts. When Puff starts to mourn the loss of Jackie's visits to Honalee, it's impossible not to grieve for what all children lose when they transition from youth to adulthood -- an innocence and a willingness to make imaginary friends who can show them new worlds.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why Puff chooses to help Jackie. How does their adventure change Jackie? What does Jackie's decisions teach us about overcoming our fears?

  • This movie was produced in the 1970s. Does it show its age? Is it still relevant? Kids: Can you tell this movie was made a long time ago? If so, how can you tell?

  • What does it mean that even though dragons live forever, little boys do not? Why does Jackie no longer need Puff as he grows older?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 30, 1978
DVD release date:December 5, 2006
Cast:Burgess Meredith, Philip Tanzini
Directors:Charles Swenson, Fred Wolf
Studio:Liberation Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Run time:71 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Puff the Magic Dragon was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byAlex Daulton November 8, 2011
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Cussing

A girl says the B word. I watched this for the first time about a year ago when I was 19. I thought it was a horrible movie, and couldn't believe the weird things they did in the movie and the cuss word in the middle.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old August 25, 2011
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

0-10 age group

this film is good to watch with small children and if you like the film then there is a compter game. enjoy kids ! :)
What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models

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