Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Movie Poster Image
Movie is darker, much bloodier than stage musical.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 117 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 43 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 172 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Sweeney decides the world is full of amoral vermin; when he can't enact revenge on the specific people who ruined his life, he kills all of his customers, whose bodies are then used to make Mrs. Lovett's meat pies.

Violence

Sweeney slits many, many customers' throats with his razors. Blood is frequently shown gushing out like a geyser and often covers Sweeney. A woman is sexually assaulted at a masquerade ball; someone is burned alive in an oven; a young man is beaten with a walking stick. Human meat and bones are ground into beef for savory pies. A group of girls in an asylum assault their keeper. The judge sentences a boy to hang.

Sex

Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett hug and, in a dream sequence, kiss.

Language

Songs and dialogue contain some curse words, including "s--t" and "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A young boy drinks a lot of gin, as do Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this feature-film version of Stephen Sondheim's Tony-winning 1979 Broadway show isn't as family friendly as most musicals (and star Johnny Depp definitely isn't in Pirates of the Caribbean mode). In fact, there's enough blood in this dark story to rival a slasher flick. There are dozens of throat slittings, cannibalism (via pies made out of human meat), and -- it can't be said often enough -- pints and pints of blood spattered everywhere. And if that's not enough, a woman is raped, a girl is wrongfully committed to an institution, and a young boy drinks gin, helps dupe people, and murders someone.

User Reviews

Adult Written byHalfBloodPrincess April 27, 2012

VERY bloody!

This is one of my favourite movies, but I would absolutely never ever EVER show it to somebody under fourteen years old. The first time I saw it at 17, there we... Continue reading
Parent of a 15 year old Written byRob Kreesty March 16, 2010

Wow

My Son Johnny was bugging me to watch this movie. I saw this review and told him NO!!! I became curious about the film so I decided to watch it my self and I f... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 25, 2014

Excellent

This is an excellent musical. I'm a big fan of Tim Burton's work and if you are too, you will not be disappointed. There is a lot of blood in this mov... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymisumi May 27, 2015

i love this film but it's violent.

This is one of my favourite johnny depp films! Helena Bonham carter is in this too. There is lots of violence, but no sex. I watched about 5 mins of the start w... Continue reading

What's the story?

Tim Burton's adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's legendary musical stars Johnny Depp as Sweeny Todd, the demon butcher of Fleet Street. Todd particularly despises London and everyone in it -- he's just arrived back after 15 years in prison, and he's thirsty to avenge those who away took his life (specifically, his wife and baby daughter). Todd returns to Fleet Street to kill the Judge (Alan Rickman) who wrongfully imprisoned him in order to seduce Todd's wife. But it's soon clear that if his nemesis won't do Todd the honor of staying for "the closest shave he's ever had," the gifted, psychopathic barber will make do with slashing the throat of any customer. His accomplice, Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), who remembers Todd from when he was the happily married Benjamin Barker, turns the fresh cadaver meat into tasty meat pies. And with her to cover up his many slashed corpses, Todd becomes a 19th-century serial killer with an ever-growing appetite. The blood spraying everywhere seems to prod him further and further to continue his messy work.

Is it any good?

Anyone familiar with Sondheim's revenge tale will be ready for a fair amount of blood and gore. But those less versed with the source material should be warned: This is not a general-audience Rodgers & Hammerstein production. Burton is the ideal director to tackle this particular musical, since he's a master at theatrically dark and moody sets. He doesn't disappoint, perfectly bringing Sondheim's bleak London -- "a great black pit" inhabited by the "vermin of the world" -- to the screen. Depp and Bonham Carter are excellent performers who obviously work seamlessly with Burton (one is his acting muse, and the other is the mother of his children). But trained singing voices aren't part of their skill set. Depp's is passable -- actually, better than expected -- but Bonham Carter's upper range is awful, and she has to make up for her shaky voice by talk-singing most of the lyrics. Still, despite their lack of singing prowess, they're otherwise well cast as an odd couple of Fleet Street crazies.

All of the supporting characters have significantly better voices, like the lovelorn Antony (James Campbell Bowers) and Todd's teenage daughter/the Judge's ward Johanna (Jayne Wisener), who's a vision of cornsilk hair and first-Soprano sweetness. And viewers will especially love Sacha Baron Cohen's appearance as swindling Italian barber Signor Pirelli, complete with hammy accent and bushy mustache. While Sweeney Todd offers an abundant amount of blood, it has equal doses of humor and wit. But if you're squeamish, be prepared to spend the second half of the film covering your eyes. And fans of the musical should know up front that they'll be underwhelmed by the singing. Still, it's true to the story, has a dazzling score, and is definitely worth seeing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether the movie's bloody nature is different from the gore in horror films. If so, how? Which has more impact, and why? Does it matter that the violence and bloodshed in this film are so stylized? Are viewers meant to find it funny, disturbing, or both?

Movie details

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