The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Movie review by Joly Herman, Common Sense Media
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 8+

Touching but dark Disney tale cheers on the outcasts.

G 1996 91 minutes

Parents say

age 9+

Based on 39 reviews

Kids say

age 9+

Based on 91 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 11+

Amazing movie, but too dark for kids

I think Disney had to pull some major strings to get this a G rating. That being said, the music is amazing, but the best part is that it has the most compelling villain. He is not evil for the sake of evil, he actually sees himself as the hero. So many themes only adults will understand. The Gargoyles are thrown in there to give the little kids something to laugh at but seem out of place.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
age 10+

One of Disney's greatest and darkest!!

Now, I absolutely LOVE this movie! I saw it pretty late in my childhood, when I was like 10 years old. Was still very excited to finally see it as I watched it on Disney Channel. I remember liking it but at the same time finding it a little too scary for me then (but absolutely adored the songs), but over the years it have grown on me and now I really love it!! Now let's talk about the great stuffs about this movie! It has a great message about not judging people by how they look and standing up for true justice; all the characters are driving that message forward very well. It also kinda introduce some religion and the church world to the kids and how it is a sanctuary, which is very nice. (And the Notre Dame cathedral is gloriously represented!). All the characters are beautifully designed and animated and the songs and score by Alan Menken is, of course, amazing. I also like how Esmeralda is a very modern strong female and how the story doesn't really follow the typical Disney format. They definitely took risks and saw all the potentials with this movie, which is a very admiring thing. I think it would have been very popular if it came out today. Especially for the older kids. However, how much I love it, that also brings me to the things that might be the reason it has got some mixed credit. It is REALLY DARK for a Disney movie, no less for a kids movie itself! The villain Frollo is probably the biggest reason for that. He isn't that typical villain who's evil for fun, he instead fully believes he's doing the right thing and he uses the power of god to his own benefit and he's feeling a sexual lust for Esmeralda. While this is a really epic villain character (probably the most perfect Disney villain ever!) that's still extremely dark for a kids movie. And they defenitely did not promote much of the darkness in the trailers. But to its defence, it has some comic relief like the gargoyles and the puppeteer Clopin. So while I still as an adult admire the creative choices in this movie and still think it's one of Disney's greatest films, I would recommend you to watch it with your child, or even pre-watch it first to see if they might be mature enough to watch it. From 10 years old you should be fine. I'm now glad I didn't watch it earlier than that age. (But today's kids dares to watch pretty much everything, I guess.) Overall, while you should be prepared for some dark things, I highly recommend this underrated masterpiece!

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