Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Movie Poster Image

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves



Classic tale has surprising amount of violence, bloodshed.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1991
  • Running Time: 143 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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." 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

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. 

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. The film 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.

Families can talk 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 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

Theatrical release date:June 14, 1991
DVD/Streaming release date:September 30, 1997
Cast:Alan Rickman, Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman
Director:Kevin Reynolds
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:143 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:violence.

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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 handle that (the attempted rape)I don't recall that anything is really shown at that time.
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 (we both love it, a large part of our father daughter bonding time is spent watching older movies from when he was younger). Now, whoever wrote the main review for this movie missed quite a few things that, as parents and concerned readers, you should know. Starting with the least: A pregnant woman goes into labor and because the baby is breeched they must perform surgery on her, and there were no anesthetics back then... Ouch. The only blood shown is when the baby is first held up. There is also the matter of Morgan Freeman's character... Nothing having to do with the attitude or beliefs, but the issue that some of the other characters have with him being the only black man they've likely ever seen. One young character directly asks him, "Why did God paint you?" I realize this isn't a bad thing because it is actually a sweet point of the film. Although if you have younger children they might question why people are so judgmental of this character. I also want to make clear that the line that Christian Slater says when Robin flies over the wall IS "F--- me, he cleared it!" I understand that IMDb may say that the line is "blow me" but keep in mind that while IMDb is a useful resource, content and info can be altered at anytime by anyone with a membership. Because I'm an archery buff and regularly shoot around at a range near my house I was deeply enthralled with that whole aspect of the movie (yes I was into archery before I ever read/saw the Hunger Games). :) As far as favorite characters go: Will Scarlett (Slater) and Azeem (Morgan Freeman). The humor is wonderfully collaborated with the action while still keeping the true values of the original Robin Hood story at heart. To cap off my extremely long and blabbering review... I tend to do this a lot... I will talk about the attempted rape scene which takes place at the very end of the movie. I believe I was roughly 11 or 12 when I saw this for the first time with my dad. I will admit it went right over my head what was going on. I just thought she was trying to get away from him because she really didn't like him. Now that I am older and more knowledgable, I know different. It is not horribly vulgar or violent. So aside from those things, there are only a few minor issues: the scary witch (who is aforementioned in earlier reviews), medieval fighting with occasionally frightening swords and also attempted hangings of multiple characters, and yeah you do see Robin's backside while he's bathing (but it's Marian's fault for peeping in the first place! Haha). Though this may seem like a lot, if you have good kids who know what is right and wrong, and if you trust them, you should have no issues with this movie. Comments? Questions? Concerns? Email me: ogormanscommonsense at yahoo. :)
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
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 on your child). The whole movie is violent, and there are several frightening bits. Language like "blimey!" is frequent, until we get closer to the end and people start saying real bad words. The sexual content comes from, surprisingly, not Robin and Marain, but the Sheriff and Marian. At the end of the film, the Sheriff attempts to rape Marian in order to impregnate her, for, once he has a child of royal blood, he will be king. He doesn't actually suceed (the moment is interrupted by Robin crashes through a window), but he gets close enough. So, I'll leave it up to you on this one. But, in all honesty, you should probably watch this movie before deciding, because parental reviews really can't tell you a lot about this movie. You'll like it, but maybe your kids should wait awhile.