The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Movie review by
Nancy Davis Kho, Common Sense Media
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen Movie Poster Image
Visual treat is too bawdy for young fantasy fans.
  • PG
  • 1989
  • 127 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

Epic efforts to reunite friends in order to defend a town under siege underpin the story, but just as much screen time given over to lust, selfishness, and avarice. The Turkish sultan and his army are depicted as cartoonishly evil.

Violence

Many scenes of battle, lots of explosions, beheadings, and torture, though they are surreal and strangely bloodless. A creepy, skeleton-faced Angel of Death tries to take the Baron on numerous occasions.

Sex

Brief female nudity (a bare backside and hazy shots of breasts), scenes of a harem, kissing, and heavy sexual innuendo, including two jealous husbands and a character who sounds like she's about to have an orgasm (though her feet are getting tickled instead).

Language

"Hell" and "damnit."

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

A character is nearly beheaded over a good bottle of wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie, based on an 18th-century book of tall tales and directed by Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam, has some fairly edgy content. Though it's steeped heavily in fantasy, there are still graphic scenes of battle with many explosions, sporadic beheadings and near executions, scenes of a harem with some shots of naked women, and a creepy Angel of Death.

User Reviews

Parent Written byLyndaPoo June 10, 2014

This is an imaginative classic!!

Addressing the nudity that so many people have been commenting on: There is ONE shot of a rather robust woman's hiney in the harem scene and there is a mom... Continue reading
Adult Written byAlphaZK93 January 19, 2011

This movie should not be PG. It should be R. at the very least PG13

I just watched this today for my film class and must say that the only things that irked me about this film was the sexual undertones in one scene and the naked... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bychargnar March 11, 2012

Very Unusual

This is a really weird but good movie. Kids will love it. Very brief female nudity.
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

This movie is so funny

awesome movie. one of the funniest movies i have ever seen. if you like this check out some other monty python movies like the holy grail or and now for somethi... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN starts in a fictional war-torn town during "The Age of Reason," and the screenplay delivers on its promise to examine the sometimes conflicting roles of fact and fantasy. As shells fall around them, the townspeople are distracted by a comedy troupe acting out the adventures of the big-nosed Baron, only to have the real Baron (John Neville) walk on stage and take up the narrative. Accompanied by little Sally Salt (a very young Sarah Polley) Baron Munchausen must reunite with his retinue, which includes Berthold (Monty Python colleague Eric Idle) in order to save the desperate town. But distractions and obstacles make the challenge extraordinarily difficult.

Is it any good?

The movie drew headlines when it was released in 1989 at almost twice its original budget, but director Terry Gilliam deserves credit for creating a visually fantastic film. While a few special effects fall flat, most are far ahead of their time, and small roles by Robin Williams and Uma Thurman (not to mention Sting) add to the whimsical quality of the film. It works well as a grown-up allegory of the nature of war and fear, and was nominated for a number of Academy Awards for costumes, makeup, and visual effects.

However, the movie is saddled with very slow pacing and scenes that seem too long by half. After somewhat confusing efforts to rescue the first two of Baron's four friends, it comes as a great relief that the remaining two can be found together, signaling that the plot can move forward again. It's a conundrum; the special effects are enticing, but the movie plods under its detail.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the nature of war as it's depicted here. Vulcan treasures his nuclear weapon because it can cause destruction while he's comfortably far away; how has that attitude changed modern warfare? How powerful a weapon is fear, as you see Horatio Jackson warning his citizens not to open the town gates? In what other movies and books can you find the Angel of Death?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love fantasies

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