Sleeping Beauty

Movie review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Sleeping Beauty Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Disney classic is delightful but sometimes scary.
  • G
  • 1959
  • 75 minutes

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 29 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 55 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Love has a lot to conquer here, namely the wrath of Maleficent, a mistress of unfathomable evil and sorcery, but it manages to triumph. The good fairies take matters into their own hands without consulting the royals they serve, which suggests that disobeying the rules sometimes can turn out well. Parents may want to discuss the wisdom of love at first sight.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Defying authority works out well for Princess Aurora and for Philip, both of whom declare they won't marry the people they've been promised to because they've fallen in love with others. The good fairies are both resourceful and loyal. They also generously give up their magic during the 16 years they raise Aurora hidden away in the woods.

Violence & Scariness

Maleficent is scary, partly because her evil powers seem invincible. She turns herself into a fire-breathing dragon to battle the prince, who fights back with a mere sword, almost falling down a cliff. This is after he's been kidnapped, tied up, and beaten by Maleficent's ogre-like goons (mostly shown in shadow). The goons try to stop Philip's escape by raining boulders on him. The goons also perform a creepy dance around a bonfire. Maleficent's staff shoots lightning bolts, and at one point she dissolves into a green mist. Before the princess pricks her finger, she appears in a trance as she climbs the tower stairs to the spinning wheel. Ominous music adds to the general air of doom.

Sexy Stuff

A kiss.


Maleficent utters "fools," "idiots," and "imbeciles." She also makes a reference to "hell."


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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The kings drink to the impending nuptials of their children, and the minstrel helps himself to the leftovers, falling over drunk under the table.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, for most kids, the scariest part of Disney's classic, Sleeping Beauty, will be the prince's fight with the dragon; he fights with a sword and almost falls from a cliff. Other scary moments involve the witch Maleficent and her ogre-like goons; Maleficent kidnaps the prince, and the goons beat him up (mostly shown in shadow). She also shoots lightning bolts with her staff and at one point dissolves into a green mist. Maleficent sys "fools," "idiots," and "imbeciles" and makes a reference to "hell." There's one notable drinking scene where the two kings toast to their children's impending nuptials, and the attending minstrel sneaks enough wine to get drunk, falling down under the table and hiccuping.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2 and 4-year-old Written byfunkywhite June 29, 2009

Don't watch it unless you're 10 or older...

Very nice animated feature, (and to person who is 42 yrs old), I love this film. I DON'T think it's appropriate for children under age 10, because Mal... Continue reading
Adult Written bymeydiana.rizki April 10, 2021

Such a epic classic!

Not insulting Disney, this just does not seem like a Disney film. There are many scary scenes (which are likely to disturb anyone aged under 9 or so) and there... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old May 18, 2016

5F - Sleeping Beauty Review by Riddhi

King Stephen wants Princess Aurora (her daughter) to marry another prince named Prince Phillip! When Aurora is born, the Queen and King throw a party for the pr... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bydisneylove February 26, 2014

Great visuals and music, eh storyline...

Ah, Cinemascope. The sweet nostalgia of this classic will live on forever. A hopelessly romantic princess, prancing around the forest with her animal friends, d... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SLEEPING BEAUTY, The King and Queen happily celebrate the birth of their daughter, Princess Aurora. The young Prince, who is betrothed to the baby, and three good fairies join the celebration. But wicked fairy Maleficent isn't included, so she angrily casts a spell on the baby Princess: When she turns 16, she'll prick her finger and die. The good fairies can't remove the spell, but they change it from death to a deep sleep from which Aurora can be awakened only by love's first kiss. For her protection, Aurora is sent to live with the good fairies in a woodsy cottage until her 16th birthday is over. The fairies can't use magic because it would lead Maleficent to the princess. Aurora (called Briar Rose) grows up and meets the Prince, and they fall in love. But Aurora can't escape the spell -- she pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep. Maleficent captures the prince, but the fairies help him escape. In a last-ditch effort, Maleficent turns herself into a terrifying dragon and sets out to stop the Prince for good.

Is it any good?

This is a classic Disney animated feature, and many parents and kids will find the hand-drawn animation refreshing compared to today's mostly computer-animated fare. Children also may enjoy the little squabbles of the three good fairies, which may remind them of arguments with their siblings. Be aware that there are some intense, scary scenes involving Maleficent and the fire-breathing dragon. Sleeping Beauty gives parents a chance to expose young ones to classical music; the score is based on Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty" ballet.

As in Snow White, a sleeping princess can only be awakened by a kiss from the prince. Psychiatrist Bruno Bettelheim and others have written extensively about the meaning of these stories and the ways in which they symbolize the transition to adulthood and sexual awakening. Bettelheim's theory was that such fairy tales begin to prepare children for developments they're not ready to assimilate consciously.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about scary villains in Sleeping Beauty. Is Maleficent scarier than, say, Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians? How about the witch from Snow White?

  • For kids who like the movies Shrek and Enchanted, what did those movies imitate from this one?

  • What is a classic? Why do you think this movie is considered a classic?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love princesses

Character Strengths

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