Star Wars: Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Star Wars: Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Ewok-filled finale less Force-ful than previous.
  • PG
  • 1983
  • 135 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 33 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 130 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Intended to entertain, not educate.

Positive Messages

Luke Skywalker successfully resists giving in to the dark side of the Force, and he repeatedly asserts that there is still good remaining in his father, the diabolical Darth Vader. Both the roguish Han Solo and Lando Calrissian end up in heroic leadership roles. The Empire is composed entirely of white males, while the rebels are a blend of genders, races, and species.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Clear line between good and bad. Many characters demonstrate courage. Luke's struggle with negative emotions and his ultimate success at remaining positive and on the side of good is a good example of self-control. 

Violence & Scariness

Explosions of spacecraft and ground weapons. Light-saber fighting results in loss of limbs. Speedy airborne craft slam into trees, and soldiers are shot down by blaster fire, and one Ewok dies. Robots and pig-like aliens are dismembered and devoured in Jabba the Hutt's dungeons. Jabba is strangled slowly by a chain.

Sexy Stuff

Scantily-clad harem girls dance suggestively in the lair of Jabba the Hutt, including Princess Leia. Princess Leia wears a skimpy bikini.


Though there is nothing in the film itself, there was an Empire of toy tie-ins and cartoon spin-offs.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

None, unless you count the hookah pipes in Jabba's place.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there are two versions of The Return of the Jedi, the original 1983 release (on VHS and Laserdisc) and a later one on DVD to which George Lucas added enhanced special effects -- some of the aliens are obvious puppets, others are obvious CGI. Both feature abundant fantasy violence, from spaceship dogfights and light-saber duels to guerrilla-style war waged with primitive weapons by the cute Ewoks (which is played largely for laughs, though one Ewok is shown dead).  Robots and pig-like aliens are dismembered and devoured in Jabba the Hutt's dungeons. Jabba is strangled slowly by a chain. Deaths of prominent characters in the series, including a peaceful one in bed for Master Yoda and a more dramatic exit (and funeral pyre) for Anakin Skywalker. Scantily-clad harem girls dance suggestively in the lair of Jabba the Hutt, including Princess Leia.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycoolkid007 September 5, 2013

good for 12 and up

It was a good movie not a good finale though because they are making episode seven. It contained two or three suggestive scenes with leia in abikini, there is a... Continue reading
Parent Written byPlague March 2, 2010

Star Wars: Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi

A phenomenal finale to the Star Wars trilogy. A must see for those who havn't.
Teen, 13 years old Written byobiwanmichael1 November 26, 2011

Let your kids watch this film! It's good for them!

Luke is a awesome role model, as is Anakin Skywalker in the end. Also, the Leia bikini isn't a issue. I've seen worse at the beach!
Teen, 13 years old Written bySpielberg00 May 29, 2011

What's the story?

THE RETURN OF THE JEDI begins with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the other Rebel Alliance heroes and robots assembling one by one to rescue their friend Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from his frozen state of suspended animation in the palace of a gross, sluglike galactic gangster called Jabba the Hutt. Once again, the terrible galactic Empire has a Death Star under construction and the rebels seek to destroy the monstrous doomsday weapon and the sinister Emperor (Ian McDiarmid). Luke knows that this will be his chance to again confront the Emperor's evil cyborg disciple Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones), who is really Luke's long-lost father Anakin, once a noble Jedi Knight. Luke refuses to believe that his parent has gone over forever to the dark side of the Force. In the action-packed three-battle finale, Luke duels with Darth under the gloating gaze of the Emperor while the Rebel Alliance throws every ship they have against the fleet of the Empire and on the forest moon of Endor, Han and friends strive to blow up a power plant generating a force field that protects the Death Star. To the rescue are the Ewoks, cute little alien primitives who look like teddy-bear monkeys, and who come to our heroes' aid.

Is it any good?

This is a properly triumphant finale, filled with action -- and yet, coming after the best and emotionally richest chapter, The Empire Strikes Back, a slight disappointment. The Return of the Jedi concluded the mighty Star Wars saga -- at least until Disney brought back the franchise with The Force Awakens -- that George Lucas conceived. It's a film series that changed movie history and raised the bar for special effects, science-fiction wonderment, blockbuster earnings, and movie marketing. If only the filmmakers put as much imagination into the main plotline as they did in the film's lengthy opener. Still, making the fight for the souls of the two Skywalkers as important as the Rebels vs. the Empire is a nice bit of dramatics, as is the idea of Luke struggling to avoid feelings of anger and revenge that might lure him to the dark side.

You can see the infatuation with visual gimmickry, cute/silly aliens and robots, plotlines apparently written to be video-game ready, and a disinterest in good acting; a toymaker mentality that continued when Lucas picked up the storyline again in prequels beginning with The Phantom Menace. While each individual stage of the finale is thrilling, cutting back and forth among the scenes disrupts the overall flow of the film.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the characters' choices and motivations in Star Wars: Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi. Why do you think Hans and Lando both put aside their roguish swaggers to play heroes? Are there any role models in this movie?

  • Talk about the hype surrounding the Star Wars franchise. Is it deserved? What is the appeal?

  • Do you consider this movie a classic? Why or why not?

  • How do the characters in Star Wars: Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi demonstrate self-control and courage? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate