A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Happiness outwits evil. Even fathers who disappoint their sons will still be loved.
Positive Role Models
Will is a good, loyal friend. An apologetic father regrets having to watch someone else save his son from drowning. Adults trust children even when they seem to be reporting unbelievable events.
Violence & Scariness
A copy of Will's bloody head falls out of the sky. Kids run scared through a graveyard. A beautiful woman suddenly looks like Frankenstein. A man is tortured by electrocution. A villain is electrocuted and decays into a skeleton. The villain saps the strength from a father trying to save his son, telling him it's a "brief taste of death." Hundreds of tarantulas are unleashed on two boys. A violent tornado destroys the evil carnival and whisks it all away.
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"Hell" and "damnation."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some scenes take place in a bar. A man smokes a cigar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Disney's 1983 horror-fantasy movie Something Wicked This Way Comes is scary the way The Wizard of Oz is scary, but it makes far less sense than Oz, which actually makes it far scarier. An evil carnival comes to town with the apparent goal to kill, destroy, or otherwise corrupt all the town's good people. Expect lots of ominous lightning and thunder, talk of death, regret, and fathers disappointing their sons. Kids run in terror. Boys are attacked by hundreds of tarantulas, a scenario that turns out to be a nightmare. A man is tortured with electric shocks. A bad guy is electrocuted to death until nothing is left of him but a shriveled skeleton. A copy of Will's bloody head falls out of the sky, and a beautiful woman suddenly looks like Frankenstein. "Hell" and "damnation" are uttered. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The book-to-movie road is strewn with disappointing results, and while this horror-fantasy boasts many assets, overall it's more puzzling than entertaining. Ominous music and freak-show oddities (an ex-football player with only one arm and one leg hops around) set the stage early on for doom and the triumph of evil, but it's a full hour before there's the tiniest attempt to explain what the evil is about and why it has chosen its particular victims. For this reason kids may be scared and still not have the slightest idea what the movie is about.
On the plus side, Bradbury has cleverly created Dark, an ironical devil who pits the longing of childhood -- to grow big -- against the longing of middle age -- to regain youth. Also in its favor, the movie has an almost archaic appreciation for poetic language, which may be attributable to the fact that the book's gifted author, Ray Bradbury, also wrote the screenplay. This leaning probably also accounts for the film's generally literate tone, but, unfortunately, often what works on the written page can seem out of place on-screen. Further along those lines, the literary/cinematic bent of director-actor Orson Welles is deliberately evoked here, as the film's climactic scene is staged in a hall of mirrors but not nearly as artfully as when Welles' did it himself in his 1948 The Lady from Shanghai.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.