The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Movie Poster Image

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey



Tolkien tale isn't as great as LOTR, but better for tweens.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 166 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

As in The Lord of the Rings, the message of The Hobbit is that even the smallest person can make a huge difference. Gandalf even says "it's the small things that keep the darkness at bay" in reference to Bilbo's involvement in the dangerous mission. Gandalf advises Bilbo that it's not knowing how to take a life that takes courage but knowing when to spare one. The dwarves' quest reminds viewers of the importance of home, kinship, and belonging somewhere. Curiosity, perseverance, and teamwork are major themes.

Positive role models

No one except Gandalf thinks that Bilbo can be of much help, but Bilbo rises to the occasion by summoning his courage when the time calls for it -- except for the fact that he fulfills his destiny as a "burglar" by stealing Gollum's precious ring. Thorin is dedicated to his fellow dwarves, and they in return revere him as their faithful leader.


Less violent than The Lord of the Rings, but there's still some carnage: a battle between the dwarves and the dragon leads to the dwarf king being decapitated, an orc leader's arm amputated, and a multitude of dwarves and their property destroyed. There are several close calls when Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves are pursued or nearly die on their journey across Middle-earth, usually by orcs and their beasts. The orc leader is a frightening sight -- particularly with his claw-like prosthesis, and he's bloodthirsty. A group of goblins/orcs tries to kill the group as well.

Not applicable

Slang use of "jaxie" (meaning "ass").


Although there are no product placements in Middle-earth, the Tolkien books and Peter Jackson film adaptations have spawned a ton of merchandise: apparel, video games, LEGO toys and board games, role-playing games, special movie tie-in editions of the books, and more.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The dwarves are a voracious lot -- even more than hobbits. They ransack Bilbo's pantry and consume large quantities of drink (and food). Gandalf and Bilbo smoke the mellowing pipeweed.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, director Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's stand-alone quest through Middle-earth, is less violent than the scarier Lord of the Rings trilogy. But there are definitely some frightening sequences, like the battle between the dragon and the dwarves of Erebor, during which one character is decapitated, another has an arm amputated, and there's mass destruction. The group of Bilbo, Gandalf, and 13 dwarves is often tracked and pursued and nearly killed several times, but they manage to avoid death -- at least in this installment. Bilbo (like Frodo and his friends in the LOTR movies) again shows that size doesn't matter when it comes to making a difference.

What's the story?

Peter Jackson's first installment in his three-part adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY starts off with an eleventy-one-year-old Bilbo Baggins (played once again by Ian Holm) narrating the tale of how he, a mellow hobbit from the Shire, ended up enmeshed in a dangerous quest. Sixty years before The Fellowship of the Ring is formed, a considerably younger Bilbo (Martin Freeman) sets off an the titular Unexpected Journey with his friend Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to help 13 dwarves reclaim their homeland -- the kingdom of Erebor, which was taken over by a killer, gold-seeking dragon that forced the dwarves into exile. The motley crew, led by Gandalf and the smoldering heir to the Erebor throne, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), encounter two-and-a-half hours of conflict (most notably with the bloodthirsty orcs) with a brief respite found in the elven homeland of Rivendell, where Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) offers Gandalf her unconditional support.

Is it any good?


Despite issues with length and pacing, there's no denying this is a production worth seeing, especially with kids new to Tolkien's detailed universe. As a novel, The Hobbit skews younger than The Lord of the Rings, so it's only natural that the film is also more accessible for tweens -- just have them look the other way for a few of the darker battle sequences. The story is simple enough, and the visuals are dazzling (the 48 frames per second rate is neither as spectacular or headache-inducing as rumors would have you believe). The acting is admirable, including the return of our favorite wizard, Gandalf, Lady of Lorien Galadriel, and head elf Elrond (Hugo Weaving). Unfortunately, the dwarves all sort of blend together in a tangle of hair and mischief, with the notable exception of the broody Thorin and his swashbuckling nephews, Fili and Kili (Dean O'Gorman and Aidan Turner).

The main issue with Jackson's adaptation is that the run time is brutal, even for hardcore fans of Jackson's epic LOTR trilogy. Whereas that trilogy made sense as three separate movies -- considering it was the adaptation of three books -- The Hobbit isn't a substantive enough work to demand three movies, even with Jackson pulling extra material from Tolkien's indices. The fabulous visuals and impressive action sequences reminiscent of the trilogy are bogged down by an overlong and overly thorough first quarter that could have used a considerable edit job.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how The Hobbit compares to The Lord of the Rings. How are the stories similar (a hobbit joins a dangerous quest), and how are they different? Which adventure do you prefer?

  • For those familiar with the book, how does the movie adaptation differ? If you haven't read the book yet, does the movie make you want to delve into Tolkien's classic? Why do you think Tolkien's fantasy tale has withstood the test of time?

  • What does Bilbo learn about himself throughout the journey?

  • How do the characters in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey demonstrate curiosity and courage? What about perseverance and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 14, 2012
DVD/Streaming release date:March 19, 2013
Cast:Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage
Director:Peter Jackson
Studio:New Line
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters, Misfits and underdogs
Character strengths:Courage, Curiosity, Perseverance, Teamwork
Run time:166 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images

This review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was written by

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Parent of a 9 and 14 year old Written bygandalf.the.white December 15, 2012

my girls loved it, but they're pretty hardcore

The violence is the biggest wild card here. If you've seen the LoTR movies, it's on the same level as that. There is plenty of swordplay, limbs chopped off, blood, and war scenes. The violence is never for it's own sake, even in the hands of the bad guys. It's always in battle. There is a reference to torture that will happen to the good guys including showing the instruments of that torture, but that never comes to pass. It is scary and there are scary looking creatures throughout. My younger one only got so nervous as to want an arm around her at the apex of action when it looked like we may lose a main character. Of course, there were messages of fealty to friends & family, empathy (especially in the Gollum story line), as well as nods to brains over brawn. There were a few potty humor jokes that I did not expect, but they were not so bad as to turn me off. They merely caught me off guard in this film.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byWayward Girl December 15, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is AMAZING!!! I CANNOT wait until Hobbit 2!!!

Just saw this with my family yesterday! My parents haven't let me seen the original trilogy, but they know I am a huge fan of the books, and they decided it would be okay. I am so glad they gave in- It was so much fun! The movie was beautiful, with gorgeous landscapes, and it was pretty funny, so younger viewers will enjoy too. There's tons of battle scenes that show violence through out the movie. One scene shows an "Orc" lifting up the head of the Dwarf King and another showed a Dwarf chopping the same Orc's arm off. The battle scenes may frighten some, but then the creatures who they fight with alone could be considered "scary." Things like the Trolls, the Goblins, the Orcs, The Wargs, and possibly the Rock Giants could bother those too young. There was as scene that disturbed my 12 year old brother, and that was the scene where the shadows of giant spiders could be seen on the windows. That didn't last very long however. And then of course, there is Gollum. Poor little Gollum tends to be very disturbing to younger and older audiences alike. That scene was amazing, by the way, and stuck very closely to the book. In fact, the entire movie stuck very well the the original novel. My dad disagrees, but I think it does. It took what was there in the book and stretched it, going further into details and character development. Lots of people are complaining that it was waaay too long (2 hours and 50 minutes!!) but to be honest? I didn't even notice. I was just hoping it would never end. This was a really fun movie, the best fantasy film I've seen in forever, and I am so excited for the second and third installments. The best part about it though, is that young viewers and old alike can love it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written by1234fivemo December 14, 2012

Wonderful Movie for a Wonderful Fandom

For all the LOTR fans this is the perfect film. Only just coming back from the midnight premiere about ten minutes ago I can honestly say it was a wonderful film and great adaptation. The movie does end in a clifhanger awaiting a second film which was a little dissapointing bu other than that a wonderful, tween friendly film!
What other families should know
Too much violence