The Hobbit (1977) Movie Poster Image

The Hobbit (1977)

Cartoon adaptation of famous book is a great intro for kids.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1977
  • Running Time: 79 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Lesson that mighty heroes are not always judged by mighty appearances. Bilbo's game of riddles with Gollum teaches some imaginative thinking. For children too young to quite absorb the Tolkein storybooks, this makes an introduction.

Positive messages

An underestimated hero, the humble hobbit overcomes a meek nature and dislike of discomfort to become a courageous warrior-adventurer (if only just this once). Futility of greed and war demonstrated by the armies of different races clashing.

Positive role models

Bilbo Baggins, though a fastidious homebody unlikely to have a great adventure, proves to be a gallant, wise, and resourceful hero (though uncomfortable at being hired as a professional "thief"). Dwarves, elves, and humans can be corrupted by greed, glory, and suspicion. Gandalf is a classic good wizard (though he and Bilbo share a smoking habit).

Violence & scariness

Combat and dragon fire kills men, monsters, and "wargs" (wolves), with much of it depicted bloodlessly and unrealistically (some creatures, fatally hit by spells and swords, simply whirl around in a kaleidoscopic camera trick). Dead bodies of men and creatures distantly shown. Trolls, giant spiders, and Gollum threaten to eat the main characters. Threatening creatures turn to stone.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Hobbits and Gandalf like to smoke pipes. The wood elves get drunk on wine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's YA-novel favorite has cartoon violence in battle scenes. There is a village-destroying dragon, predatory giant spiders, and discreet fatalities; sometimes dead bodies are shown in the distance. Sympathetic characters do die after a climactic battle. Students assigned to read The Hobbit in school might be tempted to use this faithful adaptation as a shortcut. This is not to be confused with a super-sized, live-action Hobbit later directed by Peter Jackson.

What's the story?

After creating seasonal animated classics for TV such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and others, the team of Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass produced this cartoon adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's ever-popular fantasy novel. In the mythic realm of Middle Earth, a monstrous "worm" (dragon), the fire-breathing Smaug, seized the golden horde dug up by a race of dwarves. To defeat Smaug and restore 13 dwarf warriors to their rightful throne, the great wizard Gandalf hires an unlikely agent, Bilbo Baggins, to lead the expedition through dangerous territory. After close scrapes with trolls and goblins, Bilbo stumbles across a powerful sword and a magic ring that, along with his own wits and surprising courage, help him in the perilous quest.

Is it any good?


Character designs and animation are effective, and though visuals were Japanese-outsourced, this doesn't have the cookie-cutter look of familiar "anime." The eclectic voice-over cast is also especially good. THE HOBBIT premiered on American network TV as a Thanksgiving-period special and remains well remembered by a generation. Though it somewhat simplifies the beloved storybook in some details and has a narrative a bit structured around TV-commercial breaks, this is an entertaining and even stirring fantasy whose delicate flavor and realistically amiable hero bridge the gap between toddler fairy tales and more grownup, slightly harder-edged fantasies (especially in the third act, when "good guys" suddenly get greedy and turn against each other). It rarely condescends, even with much backstory and narration happening in singsong verse and poetry -- really pretty faithful to Tolkien's bardic prose, though a bit old-fashioned for 21st-century viewers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the incredible world of imagination and legend created by J.R.R. Tolkien. Ask young readers if they think this cartoon gets it right.

  • Talk about how the small hobbit proves his strength.  Ask kids if they feel too small and meek for life's challenges, or do they persevere like Bilbo?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 27, 1977
DVD/Streaming release date:September 11, 2001
Cast:Don Messick, Hans Conried, John Huston, Orson Bean, Paul Frees
Directors:Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass
Studio:Warner Home Video
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:79 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Teen, 14 years old Written byway245 April 25, 2011
The movie was just ok. It went along with the book though. It's great for any should just save the time and watch Shrek or something...
What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 9 years old December 15, 2012

The Hobbit

The animated Hobbit is not as good as the live action Lord of the Rings movies. Everything happened so quickly, and I couldn't really follow along. But I loved the action, adventure, music and "magic", so it's certainly not a total loss.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byThe Administrator April 22, 2012

The Administrator - Review

This animated short compacts the film, and is basically just feels like an audiobook with some visuals.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence