Swiss Family Robinson



Good intro to older movies for kids; watch for stereotypes.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: June 24, 2003
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 1960
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Teaches kids some fun (if unlikely) survival tips if ever stranded in the wild. 

Positive messages

Strong messages about simplicity: If you're surrounded by the people who matter the most, material goods are no longer important. Hard work, creativity, and teamwork are also valued.

Positive role models

The Robinsons pull together to make the best of their isolated situation. They're grateful for the things they have, rather than spiteful for the things they've lost. They show imagination and intelligence when helping one another build, hunt, and cook. Some now-dated Asian stereotypes are portrayed.

Violence & scariness

Pirates attack and threaten; the Robinsons fight back with a variety of homemade weapons. There are sword fights and cannons fired. Although there's no bloodshed, the violence looks real. Also, two brothers fuming with jealousy fight over the same girl. And, the Robinsons feud for survival when wild animals frequently attack: a boa-constructor, a tiger, and sharks. 

Sexy stuff

Brothers joke about their desire of seeing women again. A young couple kisses.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Father and sons sit around a table and share wine. The youngest son (about 10 years old) is allowed to take a sip from his father's glass. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this 1960 Disney movie includes frequent battles against pirates and wildlife. Although there's no bloodshed, the violence looks real. The pirates who attack the family appear as Asian stereotypes. Animal lovers will dislike the way the youngest child captures wild animals to keep for himself. 

What's the story?

A shipwrecked family sets out to make the best of their situation on a deserted island in this classic Disney film based on the book by Johann David Wyss. The Robinson family creates inventive homemade gadgets (most notably, a fabulous tree house), far outdoing the castaways on Gilligan's Island. But their new life isn't all fun and games as they battle pirates and wild animals.

Is it any good?


THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON is a good introduction for kids reluctant to watch old movies. Shot on the island of Tobago, the scenery is gorgeous and the sets cleverly designed. Adults may occasionally wince at the stilted performances, but kids will be too wrapped up to care. Children may be enthralled by the animals, but find the tiger and snake scary. Parents should note that the violence against the pirates, particularly in the battle scenes, could be a problem for younger viewers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what it might really be like to be stranded somewhere far away from home. What should you do if you're ever in a tough situation like the Robinsons'? How realistic is their scenario?

  • Families can also discuss the stereotypes featured in the movies. How has our culture changed since this movie was made? Why wouldn't the same characterizations be OK today?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 21, 1960
DVD release date:May 7, 2002
Cast:Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur, John Mills
Director:Ken Annakin
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, Pirates
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Swiss Family Robinson was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 2 and 5 year old Written byarudek805 January 16, 2009

A Classic

I loved this as a kids and my kids enjoyed it too. The way the family works together is great. The animals cracked my kids up. The fight with the pirates at the end is a little more violent than I normally allow my kids to watch. There is shooting and sword fighting, but on the whole a great family film.
Parent of a 9 year old Written byerich April 9, 2008

Great adventure film

After seeing this movie as a child, the Swiss Family Robinson tree house was my favorite attraction at Disneyland. (Alas, it has since beome Tarzan's tree house.) It's a great adventure film with an unfortunately significant amount of violence. I don't think children under 5 should see it (although I let my son see it at 4.) There is also sexual content: the boys discover that the cabin boy they rescued is actually a girl, then treat her entirely differently thereafter. As an aside, I don't know what Indonesian pirates might have looked like during that time period, but the group portrayed in this movie is a very strange hodge podge of costumes and styles.
Kid, 9 years old September 20, 2009

Wonderful for 7+

Hi, I'm ten years old, and I think this is a great family movie! {the Pirates aren't that scary.} There is a little showing of though.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages


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