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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Movie review by
Sarah Orrick, Common Sense Media
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Movie Poster Image
Classic tale has surprising amount of violence, bloodshed.
  • PG-13
  • 1991
  • 143 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 16 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

While there are "good characters" in this movie, they are motivated more out of circumstance than from inherent goodness or a desire to do good, and while perhaps an argument could be made that Robin Hood and his band are fighting against economic injustice, their wealth redistribution isn't exactly rooted in creating a more just society. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

While Robin Hood and his band are the "good guys" of the movie, their actions are more rooted in circumstance rather than inherent goodness. 


Frequent and graphic medieval violence. A man has his arm chopped off with a machete. Blood, torture. Battles with swords and crossbows. A servant has his eyes gouged out. The Sheriff attempts to rape Maid Marian shortly after a forced marriage. Children narrowly avoid getting hung by the gallows. Characters burn to death. A witch steps on frogs and mice, graphic images of her "potions." 


Brief male nudity, buttocks. References to male genitalia. References made to the Sheriff having sex with women. 


One use of "f--k." Jokes involving male genitalia, talk of how someone has "balls of solid rock." "Damned." "Hell." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Friar Tuck is an alcoholic, praises beer more than God. Mead drinking, including a young boy who partakes. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is the 1991 blockbuster movie in which Kevin Costner plays the mythical medieval hero known for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Medieval graphic violence dominates this film, and that there are some particularly gory moments. The film opens with a painful torture scene in which a man's arm is chopped off with a machete, and later a man is burned to death. A man knifes his unsuspecting cousin, an illegitimate (and angry) half-brother appears, a painful childbirth scene (implied caesarian), a hanging, villages are destroyed, innocent children are threatened, explosions, a beloved character dies, and one nearly drowns. There is also an attempted rape, and a scary, creepy witch. "F--k" is used on one occasion, as well as some references to sex, and jokes centered on male genitalia. There is brief male nudity (buttocks) when Robin Hood emerges from skinny-dipping in a lake. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byclimb4time2 April 9, 2008

If only...

I gave the "sex" column a red because this is the only issue that makes it not okay for one of my children. I think the older one may be able to hand... Continue reading
Parent of a 2 year old Written byMom2Becca May 2, 2010

There is a cuss word.

There is one modern cuss word in this movie, and it is the big bad "F". When Robin and Azeem are catapulted over the wall of Nottingham Castle's... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byMiranda B. May 6, 2012

Robin Hood rendition is a bullseye!

Ok so normally I'm not a huge Kevin Costner fan but I did enjoy this the first time I watched it, and since then I have watched it many times with my dad (... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

Action Packed Adventure for ages 12 and up!

Robin Hood Prince of Thieves contains plently of sex, violence, and language, making the movie not appropriate for anyone under the ages of 12 or 13 (it depends... Continue reading

What's the story?

In ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES, Robin Hood (Kevin Costner), freshly returned from the Crusades, sees the ruin that the Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman) and his thugs have brought to England and vows to right the wrongs. When his father is murdered, Robin seeks revenge on the Sheriff. He joins up with Little John, Azeem the Moor (Morgan Freeman), Maid Marian (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), and an army of scrappy villagers in an attempt to get rid of the no-good Sheriff of Nottingham and his nasty thugs for good.

Is it any good?

Although this version of the legend reveals more of Robin Hood's backstory, it tries to incorporate something for everyone and is too violent for kids. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves relies on the familiarity of the plot to build extraneous plot twists, upon which most of the suspense lies. Viewers will be asking, "When will (x) happen?" as opposed to, "What will happen next?" Teens who aren't bothered by this will love the courageous actions of Robin Hood and his Merry Men and the exciting battle sequences.

Parents will secretly root for Alan Rickman's Sheriff of Nottingham, who sparkles in contrast to Costner's dull Robin Hood. Costner merely floats along, leaving any sense of urgency or drama to the Merry Men, villagers, and the exciting visual effects. Sadly, although Marian first appears a strong, independent, brave young woman, by the end of the film she has relapsed into the stereotypical damsel in distress. The film wobbles between stilted, "medieval-like" dialogue and American accents from the majority of the main characters, an issue compounded by historical errors throughout the film.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Robin Hood's choices are often between the lesser of two evils. Do two wrongs ever make a right? (For example, robbing the rich to feed the poor?)

  • Does the graphic violence in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves seem necessary to tell the story and heighten the conflicts and drama, or does it seem merely added to provide gratuitous entertainment? 

  • This is obviously a story that is known far and wide, and had been already been made into a movie several times over by the time this version came out in 1991. What would be the challenges in making a movie that has already been done before? How does this movie stick close to the legend, and how does it take liberties? 

Movie details

For kids who love action and adventure

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