Parents' Guide to

The Court Jester

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 6+

Terrific family fun.

Movie NR 1956 101 minutes
The Court Jester Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 10+

One of Common Sense Media's really MISGUIDED reviews

This is a classic 1950s comedy, and for those who appreciate the subtle and broad humor of that genre, it works. But Common Sense Media's over-the-top glowing review is really misleading, and it's nuts to call it "terrific family fun" for kids as young as 6. Here's why: - The opening scene is a person being shot in the back with a bow and arrow. He falls off a horse and dies. This isn't a cartoon, mind you, and a "death scene" with real people isn't something I'd like my young kids to see. - The plot is really, really complicated for a young kid to follow. For my 6 and 9 year olds, I had to pause and explain what was happening because there's a lot of role switching and plot twists and it's tough to keep track of central plot points such as who's who, who's good or bad, etc. - Although there's no sex or bad language in the film, my kids did ask me what a witch meant when she *repeatedly* commanded a man to "make love to" a female character. That's not a phrase I'd like them to repeat elsewhere. - Is it really "one of the funniest comedies ever," as the review says? Well, my 79 year old mother chuckled a few times during the movie, but my boys didn't laugh at all until the last 5 minutes. This wasn't a horrible movie, but watching it with my kids just wasted our time and caused me to really question CSM's review criteria.
age 11+

I'm shocked how little was said about this movie, THERE'S A LOT of content that's iffy and objectionable! (But it is great entertainment)

Written by the wife of the user: MESSAGE: People all have something they can contribute. (There are other good messages but with this being a old comedy with lots of plot twists some of them are undone like don't marry a brute doesn't really hold up--the princess in the end marries him anyway despite plotting against it) VIOLENCE: Lots. There's slapping. Talk of assasinations and executions. People beating each other with sticks, chasing after each other with knives and swords. People very close to death and in one instance going insane and panicking. Shooting with arrows. Getting knocked out, multiple times. Almost getting hit with a mace (is that what it's called?). We think one of the characters is decapitated--he's not. Talk of life being taken easily. Threats of suicide. A nose getting twisted. Someone has a sword put at them and tells the holder to spill their own blood, and he almost does he starts lunging the sword into him. People are thrown out into the water with catapults. There's kidnapping. Peril for a baby. Dead bodies are everywhere at the end. It's made to look fun and exciting, but a lot of it would not hold up in real life. Hitting people doesn't always knock them out. Also the main character swings from window to window in a castle which would be very dangerous if your child attempted it. There is talk of writhing on the floor with agony in pain due to a disease. One of the good guys is killed off screen after he tries sending a bird for help. There's also a real danger of heads being severed. SEX: Also lots of this. A woman sleeps next to a man and it's too tempting for him, he passionately kisses her, strokes her and necks her (though not too low on the neck). She also goes into seduce the king in his private chambers, winking at a guard to get by, saying "this is the king's command". Thankfully she doesn't actually have a romantic interest in him. The king strokes her face. He appears to be very aroused but in a 1950's approved way. There's talk of making love, and lots and lots of kisses. The main character asks for more. Unfortunately he's being hypnotized and wouldn't have chosen this passion for himself. A character tells him to show passion and he's very agressive towards her and the character says don't make love to me. He also says that restraint is for the birds when a woman asks him to restrain himself. The leading lady is kidnapped with other "wenches" (yes they use that word) and is expected to "please" the king. How well women are treated in this movie is questionable. NUDITY: serious cleavage on the leading lady and the wenches (most women are more covered) and a baby posterior cheek shown, no crack thankfully LANGUAGE: a lot of typical insult words, most people would say they are clean. EDUCATIONAL VALUE: There is talk of witchcraft and being favored by the gods--which isn't too off for a time when England was only semi-Christian. A woman is expected to marry for an aliance. There's talk of knighthood and the rituals as well as real struggles monarchs might face during those times like usurping the crown are educational. There isn't really a defined English accent for that time which is okay for the era as this is the middle ages, but the educational value suffers in that the pages and squires are all adults. DRUGs: pills are used to assasinate people on more than one occasion. There are toasts. Thankfully there is NO CONSUMERISM. NOTE: This really ought to be PG. We watched it with adults too and even though they didn't have any children present they felt like it was very pushy on the sex front and almost asked us to turn it off when the necking scene in bed happened, a weird place to pop the question if you ask me. It only stopped because the leading lady had a plan to break into the castle, but he still seems more interested in her for sexual reasons and isn't listening very well. Yes I put it at 11 (maybe 10) but I'm being a hypocrite here, my son watched it at 9, I'm hoping it was right for us for the educational value, but I really don't know anymore after I wrote out this review. POSITIVE/DIVERSE OR OTHER MESSAGES DEPENDING ON YOUR VIEWS There is role reversal present. The leading lady is very brave and a leader in the robin hood-like group. However we learn that she became that way because her father didn't accept her as a girl even though she knows she is. Her lover says he doesn't feel very masculine and she tells him that it's okay, it makes him attractive and "a very rare man". Meanwhile the main male is unsure of himself and carries the baby around because he's not seen as capable of fighting but wants to be given a chance. He leads a group of little people and pleads for them to be allowed to get involved because they feel strongly about the tyranny too. He feels slighted over the one woman in the group not handling the baby instead of him (it's more because it means he doesn't get to participate in the action--he more feels it ironic than any sexist feelings and he's more worried about how he looks). There are little people in the movie and they want respect and are the heroes in the end which is refreshing. I'm surprised that nothing was said about how progressive all of these ideas are for the 1950s. I agree with the other reviewer here about how long it took a young boy to understand it, he also didn't laugh until later in the movie (although he started laughing earlier in the movie when we watched it a second time). Your child needs to be past the imitation stage and clearly understand right and wrong and be able to handle almost every scene being sexy or violent. There's a lot of comedy and context that would make this movie harmless to teens and adults, just be sure your child is ready for that.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (2 ):

THE COURT JESTER is pure joy. This is Danny Kaye's best movie, and one of the funniest comedies ever, with a plot that is both exciting and hilarious. It's terrific family fun.

It is worth pointing out the scene in which Jean and Hawkins confess their love for one another. He asks shyly if she could love a man who was not a fighter, and she explains that tenderness and kindness are important to her. They are each proud of the other the way they are, almost revolutionary for a movie of that era.

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