Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Movie review by
Colette DeDonato, Common Sense Media
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Old-school, heartwarming classic for all ages.
  • NR
  • 1964
  • 53 minutes

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 42 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 36 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Rudolph's story has a great message about nonconformity: Just be yourself, don't worry if you don't fit in, get the support of other "misfits," and you'll find that there's strength in numbers.

Positive Role Models & Representations

At first the other reindeer, and even Santa, are rather unkind to Rudolph. The role models are only boys, but Rudolph is a nonconformist. He and the other misfits learn to like themselves for who they are.

Violence & Scariness

Mild peril, mostly related to the abominable snowman.

Sexy Stuff

A whole line of toys and other products based on the characters is available (most came out long after the special originally aired).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rudolph's story has a great message about nonconformity: Just be yourself, don't worry if you don't fit in, get the support of other "misfits," and you'll find that there's strength in numbers. Kids older than 4 will likely get the message, and for those younger than that, the cute little reindeer and all the musical numbers -- as cheesy and outdated as they might seem now -- will hold their interest. Even the show's "scary" antagonist, the Abominable Snow Monster (or "Bumble"), seems harmless, especially by today's standards.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3-year-old Written byI Must Say December 16, 2010

Love the movie, but really it's full of horrible messages and scary scenes

Let me start by saying this was a childhood favorite of mine, my kids love it, and we watch it all the time. That said, the bumble is terrifying, as is the par... Continue reading
Parent Written byRizz December 15, 2018

None of the positive messages I remembered.

Watched this last night with my 4.5 year old and I was appalled.

His father is ashamed of him until his usefulness is approved by others. Santa is very mean... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byScout1 December 10, 2015

Wow...Sexist and Discriminatory

I have lived this movie since I was little but I was watching it again tonight and realized for the first time how INCREDIBLY SEXIST this movie really is!!!! I... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bybakeranimator December 2, 2014

Awkward Animation, Mean-Spirited Overtones, and a TERRIBLE Moral

I realize I'm subject to A LOT of unpopular opinions that not many people want to hear, but I just have to get this one off my chest. I HATE this special!... Continue reading

What's the story?

Burl Ives, in the guise of Sam the talking snowman, narrates the tale of a misfit reindeer named Rudolph (voiced by Billie Mae Richards) who's finally appreciated by peers and parents when Santa (Stan Francis) discovers the usefulness of his light-bulb nose to guide the sleigh during a terrible snowstorm on Christmas Eve. (But, of course, you already know the song: "All of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names.") Rudolph finds his compatriot in an elf named Hermey (Paul Soles) who has become disillusioned with his job making toys and dreams of becoming a dentist -- which is, of course, out of the question for elves. Hermey and Rudolph run away from the North Pole together and, with new friend Yukon Cornelius (Larry D. Mann), make it to the Isle of Misfit Toys. Here they find company among others who stand out from the crowd.

Is it any good?

This classic, beloved holiday TV special -- the highest-rated, longest-running in TV history -- seems almost inextricable from the idea of Christmas. Parents will no doubt have memories of this delightful film, which first aired in 1964, from their own childhoods. And you can't watch it without appreciating the simplicity of a pre-computer-animation world. Just hearing Ives' voice and songs transports you back to a simpler time, when Christmas didn't hold as many TV-viewing options and McDonald's wasn't part of the marketing deal.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to not fit in with the crowd.

  • How would you feel if no one wanted to be your friend because you were different?

  • Families can also talk about the fact that Rudolph, who doesn't get much support from his father, decides to run away from home.

  • Could Rudolph have found another way to express his feelings about not being accepted?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love holidays

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