Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Movie Poster Image

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street



Movie is darker, much bloodier than stage musical.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 117 minutes

What parents need to know

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.


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.


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


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

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:December 21, 2007
DVD/Streaming release date:March 31, 2008
Cast:Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp
Director:Tim Burton
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:117 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:graphic bloody violence.

This review of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was written by

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


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Broadway + Beyoncé = big, boomy musical fun.
  • Oscar-winning satire all about the razzle-dazzle.
  • Infectiously fun musical with a message.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 15 year old Written byRob Kreesty March 16, 2010


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 found out that this review is completely false. There is no use of the F-word and there is no sexual assault or rape in this film. I then after watching it my self, allowed my son to watch it
What other families should know
Too much violence
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 were a few parts I had to cover my eyes because I just couldn't take the blood, and I have a fairly strong stomach. Really, the main thing you need to be concerned about is BLOOD, GORE, AND VIOLENCE. Sweeney kills dozens of innocent people who are then baked into pies by Mrs. Lovett. There's some pretty bad language, but let's face it, a 14 year old hears those words every day at school. A rape is referenced, but not actually shown. There aren't really any positive role models in the movie. Sweeney is a murderer who, at first, is hell bent on avenging his wife, but he later starts killing dozen innocent people because "we all deserve to die". Mrs. Lovett goes along with Sweeney's plans and bakes the people into pies and feeds them to her unsuspecting customers. There is some drinking (including underaged drinking) but it's not really a huge concern compared to the violence and blood. Personally, I think that if your child is above 14 years old, it's up to them to decide what they can handle. Some 14 year olds will have no problem with this movie, while some 50 year olds won't be able to stomach it. It all depends on the individual person. Although there are some bad parts to it, there are some amazing, wonderful things about it too and, if you can handle it, I highly recommend you watch this movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bynduns October 20, 2009

Before I start my review...

I just gotta say that I am impressed by the kid reviewers here. You have shown much more maturity when reviewing this, an r-rated film, than most kid reviewers show when reviewing PG-13 or even PG movies. You all deserve a round of applause for actually going against that dumb stereotype that young people can't handle the sight of blood. Anyway, today was sadly my first time ever watching this movie. I hadn't even seen the screenplay before. I was beyond impressed. This is one of the greatest musicals I have ever seen, and it's not very common that a serious musical directed towards adults comes along. The characters were well-developed and the only important characters who die are those who deserve it. This is a great film that should at least be viewed once by those who can handle the sight of blood.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking