A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
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.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Hobbits and Gandalf like to smoke pipes. The wood elves get drunk on wine.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
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.