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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie is intended to entertain rather than educate.
This story shows how important it is to challenge authority and speak the truth to power. The only person who has the courage to unmask the emperor is a child, a symbol of the uncorruptible. At the same time, the tale illustrates how easy it is to fool people if you play to their fears of looking stupid or inept. Use of physical impairments as comedy is an old-fashioned device that might need some explaining.
Positive Role Models
The emperor is portrayed as foolish, vain, and spoiled, though he learns a lesson. The general populace, as well as the emperor's staff, are silly and afraid to speak up. The only honest, smart, and resourceful character is the princess.
Violence & Scariness
Some comic action: Soldiers throw two men into the sea; there's a brief fracas between citizens and castle guards in which some people are pushed down; and a very short, cartoonish sword fight has some martial arts.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A kiss between the princess and a tailor.
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Occasional name-calling: "idiot," "stupid," etc.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a slapstick version of the venerable fairy tale in which old-time comic actors deliver lots of mugging and jokey dialogue. Han Christian Andersen's messages about snobbery, hypocrisy, and dishonesty are intact, if somewhat diluted. In the manner of old school, almost vaudevillian comedy, there are several characters whose humor is derived from a physical impairment: crossed eyes, missing teeth, or a speech impediment. The few action sequences are done for comic effect and are never seriously frightening -- expect a few martial arts kicks and a rough-and-tumble sword fight. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Turning a familiar, timeless Hans Christian Andersen tale into a slapstick farce with hammy but well-liked comic actors must have seemed like a good idea at the time (1987). The performers seem to be having a wonderful time chewing the scenery. Adding a few unimpressive musical numbers, some lavishly ridiculous costumes, and changing Andersen's ending just a bit sweetened the pot.
But there's no mistaking this shoestring production for anything other than what it was meant to be: a cheap entry into the fairy tale genre with very little thought given to plotting, character, logic, or resolution. For example, rather than come up with anything clever or innovative to reveal the "invisibility" of the emperor's new clothes, the low point of the film is watching Caesar strut through the low-budget crowd in gold satin underwear.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.