Tale of Tales

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Tale of Tales Movie Poster Image
Sex, violence in fairy tale collection that's NOT for kids.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 133 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The stories have lessons, though they're not as simple as those in fairy tales for younger audiences. The main take-away is probably about being aware of desire: Coveting things in life and then actually getting them doesn't always lead to happiness. Or, to put it more succinctly, "be careful what you wish for."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even when the characters learn their lessons, they're not admirable.


Characters die. An ogre fights and kills people, breaking necks. Stabbing with blades. Blood runs out of a character's mouth. Neck-slicing, with spurting blood. Underwater fight with a sea monster includes stabbing and blood flowing in the water. Character is flayed, covered in blood. Character eats a giant sea monster's heart. Creepy giant flea. Ogre forces a woman to live in his cave.


Several topless women. Graphic sex scene: A woman on top of a man, with breathing/groaning noises. A main character has many sex partners; he's shown kissing breasts. Two of his partners kiss each other and kiss each other's breasts.


A use of "bastard" (the actual definition).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tale of Tales is an anthology based on old Italian fairy tales, but it's not for kids! Violence and sexual content are both strong -- several women appear topless, and there are a couple of steamy sex scenes and a character with many lovers. On the gory side of things, there's quite a bit of blood, and an ogre attacks and kills several characters, snapping their necks. There's stabbing and slicing with blades, and a violent fight with a sea monster. There's also some creepy imagery, and woman is taken against her will. Two women magically become pregnant. The word "bastard" is used per it's actual definition; there's no other language, and substance use and consumerism aren't issues. The movie could captivate older viewers with its quirkiness, but it's a little short on adventure, wit, and warmth. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byhmoul640 December 1, 2018

Breath of Fresh Air!!!!

Yes, its weird. Yes, it's not for small children. And some it can be gory. So, what's the breath of fresh air? Well, its simple really. These are Rea... Continue reading
Adult Written byen.masallar.org June 24, 2018

I liked

I liked it very much. You can also read these tales and stories at https://en.masallar.org or at www.masallar.org.
Teen, 14 years old Written byHarry.trax January 27, 2017

Mature fairy-tale , has sex , violence ....

A different fairy-tale that's not for kids . Has graphic sex with strong nudity , violence and some bloody-gory scenes . The story has some disturbing mat... Continue reading

What's the story?

In TALE OF TALES, a queen (Salma Hayek) desperately wants a child. An old man tells her that she can become pregnant if her husband (John C. Reilly) kills a sea monster and she consumes its heart, as prepared by a virgin. Years later, the queen has a son (Christian Lees), but somehow he also has a twin (Jonah Lees), born of the virgin girl. Meanwhile, another king (Toby Jones) raises a giant flea, which eventually leads to his terror-stricken daughter's marriage to an ogre. And another king (Vincent Cassel) pursues a woman whom he thinks is beautiful, but she's really an old hag who has magically transformed. She succeeds in becoming queen, until her lonely sister (Shirley Henderson) interferes.

Is it any good?

Well-made and proudly weird, this collection of fairy tales is missing something; it could have been funny, sexy, or thrilling, but instead it's clinical, like spying on bugs under a microscope. Director Matteo Garrone once made a terrific modern Italian crime movie (Gomorrah), but otherwise, he's struggled to find the right tone for his movies (The Embalmer, Reality, etc.), and TALE OF TALES is yet another example of missing the mark.

In switching between the three main threads, the film stays too long in each, and the movie never really builds an enticing rhythm. Likewise, none of the tales stands out; they all have the same constant thrum, and nothing perks up the storytelling. Some bits, such as the sea monster or the giant flea, feel like they should elicit some kind of reaction, but they just don't; it's like they're museum pieces. Ultimately, this is an interesting but lackluster attempt to bring Giambattista Basile's tales to an American audience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Tale of Tales. What effect does the brutal, punishing violence have? Is it necessary to the story? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • What role does sex play in the movie? What does it mean to the characters? Parents, talk to your kids about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • Why do you think fairy tales have such long lives? Why are they passed down from generation to generation? What purpose do they serve?

  • What's the message of these particular fairy tales? What lessons are learned? Who pays the price?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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