All member reviews for The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Common Sense Media says

Touching but dark Disney tale cheers on the outcasts.

Users say

(out of 61 reviews)
age 9+
Review this title!
Teen, 16 years old Written byhamstergurl09 March 24, 2011

Easily My Favorite Disney Movie

I absolutely LOVE this movie. The visuals are phenomenal. The overall message, which is about accepting people, is very good. The outcasts win in this movie. This film is widely regarded as Disney's darkest movie, though. The antagonist, Frollo, is probably the most evil Disney villain out there. Frollo might be scary to little kids, seeing as he kills several innocent people, burns down houses, etc. Frollo has one of the best songs ever put in a Disney movie, called "Hellfire" in which he confesses his lust for Esmeralda and that if he can't have her, the fires of Hell will. Frollo's lust for Esmeralda goes right over little kids' heads. Quasimodo, the protagonist, is a very likeable character, and proves that looks aren't everything. Esmeralda, the female protagonist, is a strong character with a great personality. I like the narrator Clopin also. My favorite line in the movie is during the opening song:"Who is the monster and who is the man?" Overall, excellent movie that might be a little scary for kids.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Parent of a 5 year old Written byfierce_mink_2000 August 10, 2009

Not good for anyone.

Since sexuality seems to be a major theme on this website, I'm surprised that this movie isn't totally being panned. The basic plot revolves around lust. It's even stated pretty explicitly in the review above, but in spite of this comment: "he sings a song of desire about her and asks for her destruction" it's ok for 6 year olds?? Really? To me, this just was never meant to be a story for children. I cannot understand the thought process at Disney that lead many someones to saying "Yes, let's make a movie for small children about lust!!" And I don't understand how this got anything besides a big, fat OFF here at Common Sense Media. Blech.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Parent of a 4 year old Written byMuffinsMummy March 29, 2011

Watch This Alone Before Showing Your Kids!!

Firstly, I do understand the message being portrayed here. Yes, Quasimodo & Esmerelda are both outcasts and heroes in this film, and that is indeed a good thing. I also liked the fact that (spoilers!) Esmerelda does not fall in love with Quasimodo at the end, because that would have been just a little too unrealistic for me. I liked the ending. I also didn't have any particular problem with Esmerelda's dress or behaviour, as this could easily be explained to a child as a type of cultural dress (although some parents should be aware that they may find Esmerelda's dress and dancing very provocative). BUT, I will not be showing this film to my daughter until she is a teenager, and frankly probably not at all (she probably won't be interested by then anyway). The reason for this is largely because of the villian of the piece, Frollo, and his violent obsession with Esmerelda. As adults, we can watch and more or less understand (though hopefully not identify with!) a character whose obsessive desire leads them to viciously hate the object of their lust rather than to love her. But I do not feel that this is something a child can deal with or understand, nor do I feel they should be expected to. I have seen that some reviewers have spoken of this element of the film "going over kids' heads", but I suspect a lot less goes over our kids' heads than we would like to think. I think the Hellfire song would be very confusing and disturbing to most small children, and even some older ones. I can't imagine why they put it in, to be honest - it just isn't appropriate for a children's movie in my opinion, and it wasn't necessary to the plot at all. If you do let your kids watch this movie, be well prepared for questions on this issue. The film is also quite violent for a kids' movie - in one scene, an innocent family (with children) is locked into their home, which is then burned down (much screaming etc) - although they are rescued from the house, they still lose their home, which I think would scare my daughter a lot. The scariness/violence level may be okay for some kids, I don't know - my daughter is still little, and even for her age is quite sensitive to scary things. But seriously, this movie should NOT be G-rated. You should vet this first, and make your own judgement for your own kids.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Great messages
Adult Written bylaura9873 December 11, 2010

Great Movie but Should Not be Rated G

A mean man locks the main character away in a bell tower. Then, he wants to rape/kill a woman. She is tied to a burning stake at one point. The man sings about hellfire in front of a fire which grows and moves. Followed by a violent battle scene where molten fire literally pours from the bell tower, burning people and innocent citizens. Don't get me wrong, it is a great story and a great Disney movie. But it should NOT be rated G. It's a dark story about outcasts, damnation, mercy, and cruelty.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Educator and Parent Written byCommonSenseChristian December 31, 2012

Take Plenty of Light with You into This Cathedral

Let me go on the record as saying that Disney was deceptive with this film; it is inappropriate for anyone younger than 12 and possibly 13. This is generally because it's a mixed bag. First, the positive. Quasimodo and Esmerelda are positive role models whose values kids would do well to imitate. Esmerelda's song on behalf of outcasts will make you cry, and there is a great nod to Jesus in the lyrics. Phoebus shows a lot of growth for a Disney character, though he can be a bit of the classic "shallow jock" type. There is also a wonderful overarching message that "monsters" aren't always who and what we think, and that the church is meant to be a sanctuary, even though some use it for sinful purposes. (The archdeacon is a lovely example of the positive side of this). Quasi's gargoyle friends provide good comic relief, as does Clopin. Now, the negatives. Claude Frollo is my least favorite villain, because he is a monster--one wearing the cloak of Christ. His attitudes toward disability, faiths other than his own (Roma Gypsy), and people who he believes to engage in any type of sin, are reprehensible. This man doesn't understand mercy or true justice, and for that, he is a frightening, overly dark animated villain. If his darkness stopped there, I could probably recommend this film for a slightly younger audience. But the fact that he very vocally lusts after Esmerelda, sings of her burning in hell, and violently attempts to kill her (among other characters, including a baby) pushes him way over the edge. One minor note: In the context of this story, it may not be necessary for Christian parents to spend much time on the fact that Esmerelda's religion, which centers on occultic practices like palm-reading, can have its own darkness. In fact, it may not even be advisable, as the point here is that no one should be persecuted for any faith. But depending on your child's impressionability, you may want to discuss implications if your house does not condone palm-reading, fortune-telling, and its ilk. (A good explanation might be, "Some people believe in this, and you can treat them kindly and ask questions. But we don't believe in this, and we don't do it in our home. If you have questions, talk to me or an adult you trust.") Keep younger kids out of this cathedral--it's way too high for them. But for older kids and adults? Proceed with caution, and be prepared for good discussion if you watch.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Parent Written byjeparkey August 11, 2011

Fantastic movie...NOT for kids!!!

I haven't read all of the comments on this movie, so please forgive me if I am repeating someone. First, let me say that this movie is on my 10 best movies ever list. However, I would like to point out that Frollo is not just any man wanting any woman. He is a priest calling on the Blessed Mother and all the saints in heaven to bring him Esmerelda or to condemn her to hell. Over the backdrop of other priests praying in the Cathedral he prays: "Protect me, Maria. Don't let this siren cast her spell. Don't let her fire sear my flesh and bone. Destroy Esmeralda, and let her taste the fires of hell, or else let her be mine and mine alone." Fantastic for 11th grade Lit class, not so much for 7-year-old movie night! Please preview this movie and think twice before you show this to your kids.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Parent of a 3 and 6 year old Written byarudek805 September 11, 2009

Drama That's Dark & Distrubed

The themes of this movie are well beyond the children that this animated film is aimed at. There is racism and persecution of the Romany people, including the murder of Quasi's mother and the attempted murder of many others. Frollo's lustful feelings for Esmelerda are played out in a song that is way over the top and not for kids. While the gargoyles are funny, the themes of the movie are really too adult for children.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Adult Written bymovie-watcher girl August 23, 2014

Awesome!

A lot of reviews say that Esmeralda wears revealing clothes, but I still don't understand what they are talking about. There is a lot of violence, but no blood. There are also a lot of funny moments. The songs are awesome, especially 'God Help the Outcasts', sung by Esmeralda.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 5 year old Written byclinderm November 15, 2012

Not appropriate for smaller children!

I watched this movie with my 5 year old today and I was shocked - even more surprised when I read the positive reviews on this website. I felt it was totally inappropriate for younger children, and with little in the way of entertainment value or comic relief. Both my husband and I commented that this was the worst "kids" movie ever, and I seriously considered "accidently" deleting it from the DVR so that we wouldn't have to finish watching it. Between torturing the hunchback, the bad guy singing about his lust for Esmerelda, and attempting to burn her at the stake, I spent most of the movie cringing. I understand that this is a classic story, and it may be appropriate for older kids, but definitely not for younger ones!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 13 years old Written byLunargirl March 26, 2016

Very compelling film...

I wasn't allowed to watch this until I was ten. My mother thought that I wouldn't understand all of the themes at a younger age, and I probably wouldn't have. I don't regret waiting. This movie covers themes such as prejudice, differences, and even lust. The soundtrack is incredible, and the characters are realistic. (Personality wise). Frollo, the villain, is terrifying because there are people exactly like him, and he is probably a representation of some real-life folk. Esmeralda's dress was more of a cultural thing than anything else. However, this movie has plenty of Christian themes, and the characters are shown to be very religious. There is nothing wrong with this, but please take into consideration your family's beliefs. I'm not a Christian, and I loved this film, but some might feel offended.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written bylimabeanzrule May 22, 2014

Easily the most adult G rated movie I've ever seen

There are quite a bit of things in this movie that could scare kids under 7... For example: People dressed up like skeletons, sneaking up behind the main character Hooded figures who's faces cannot be seen And houses being set on fire, by some deranged sadist BUT... The characters are well developed, the message is good, and it has one of the best Disney villain songs in history.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Kid, 11 years old January 2, 2012

G rated??? I think not.

This film is great with nice messages. But should be rated PG.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Adult Written bySirenStar November 6, 2011

Wonderful Disney movie that deserves a chance.

Wow... I feel people are taking the dark themes a little too seriously here. I was 8 and my sister was 6 when this movie came out, and we had absolutely no problem with it. The "sexual" references, such as Frollo lusting after Esmerelda, I didn't even understand. When he sang "hell" in his song, I thought "ooo... he's the bad guy and he said a bad word. you don't say bad words". That's probably what your children will think too. Yes, there are some dark scenes and deaths, but as long as your child isn't sensitive, I would say go for it. There's a beautiful message of tolerance and acceptance any child will benefit from.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byMariodude23 May 11, 2010
This movie is a masterpiece in every sense of the word and one of the best that Disney has ever produced. The animation is stunningly beautiful, same for the songs which also tell the story in the most effective way since the Beauty and the Beast. It's also as dark as the Beauty and the Beast, heck, it's as good as Beauty and the Beast. Frollo is (in my opinion) the best villain Disney has put in a movie. This is where the inappropriate stuff comes in. Frollo lusts after Esmeralda, attempts to kill her, offers her freedom to 'be his'. It also has the battle scene against Notre-Dame herself! All this mixed in with themes of the Catholic Church make this Disney's darkest tale, and not suitable for young kids. But if you do happen to show this film to the kids there is the extremely out of place gargoyles who try to lighten up the story with some pretty weak comic relief. Not for young kids, but above that age that you decide is too young, then they can enjoy.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bynduns March 30, 2010

Easily the most underrated Disney film EVER!

Sure, there have been others that didn't make all that much money and a lot of classics got far worse critic reviews than this, but this one is just so overlooked simply for being, ahem, "too different". I can understand it's a lot darker than other Disney films before it and it kinda shocks me that Disney would even choose an adult novel (Then again, these are the same people who attempted to make Greek Mythology for kids) and I know the ending was changed drastically, but who cares? I loved it just for going past Disney's boundaries, even if it wouldn't be considered way past nowadays. It had very intelligent writing, an excellent message and what's more, it features quite possibly one of Alan Menken's best scores, which says a lot considering this was the hardest for him to make. And hey, why doesn't the voice of Clopin appear in more works? I envy the man who can hold a high note for as long as he did.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byjoshuaz June 27, 2015

Too Scary for Very Young Kids

Rated PG/PG-13 for Scary Images, Violence, Thematic Material & Content
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written byGorilla G Swagger April 9, 2015

Just because it's disney does not means it's always for youngsters

Just because this film is disney does not make a film fine. Really scared me when I was little.
Parent of a 3 and 6 year old Written byune maman April 2, 2014

Sex and violence galore!

The main characters are in peril pretty much the entire movie, lots of people die, the sexual stuff is pretty overt (not just innuendo) and there's lots of talk of sin and damnation and the like. The only thing about it that makes it even remotely a kids movie is that it's animated and the gargoyles provide a little (but not nearly enough) comic relief. How do so many Disney movies get G ratings?! If your kids are old enough to handle all that then there are some good messages, I suppose...
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 15 years old Written byProclaim December 23, 2013

Be Careful

I saw this movie when I was a very little girl and it scarred me. Not the h-ll fire song or anything, but the treatment of Quasimodo. In one scene they tie him down with ropes and throw tomatoes at him. Besides that, I liked the film. Just be careful showing this to sensitive kids- or ones who scare easily.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written byLittle Cupcake July 14, 2013

Thoroughly Enjoyable Film has Some Dark Themes

This is a very touching yet entirely entertaining and enjoyable film. Its characters are very lovable, and the villain is just easy to despise. However, it was not marketed to the appropriate age group and I don't know how Disney snagged a G rating for this. Little kids who watch it won't notice some of the darker, more mature themes in the film, but they are there. There is a whole song, "Hellfire", that describes the villain's lust for the lovely (yet sensually dressed at times) Esmeralda. However, Quasimodo is just too lovable to skip this film. Definitely watch it. The songs are amazing, the animation is brilliant, and you are sure to be entertained. Don't miss out on the quotes by Phoebus and Achilles! :-)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex

Pages