Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

Parent reviews for The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Common Sense says

Touching but dark Disney tale cheers on the outcasts.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 32 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 53 reviews
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.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Positive 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.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
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.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Positive Messages
Adult 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.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Adult Written byjoshuaz June 27, 2015

Too Scary for Very Young Kids

Rated PG/PG-13 for Scary Images, Violence, Thematic Material & Content, Although It’s Rated G But Sill

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Adult 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.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages
Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
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!

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Adult Written byJubileeJigsaw November 28, 2017

Wonderfully Made

I believe that when kids see the Hunchback, parents should remind them that God created everyone wonderfully in His eyes. Psalm 139:14

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
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.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive 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.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 7 year old Written byklg712 January 8, 2010

Fine for older kids, not for little ones

Started watching with my daughter (7 yrs) and had to turn off when the priest burned the house with the family inside - even though the good guy saved them. NOT for little ones. They identify way too much with the characters.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Adult Written byCCharmanderK May 3, 2013

A Fantastic Film... But Parents be Warned

Disney's adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel is a fantastic film, but may not be suitable for young audiences. The film's heavy themes of religious corruption may confuse young audiences, and some scenes are quite intense, featuring fiery, hellish imagery set against dark, Gothic surroundings. Judge Claude Frollo is a character who greatly suffers from sexual temptation, harboring an out-and-out lust for the beautiful Esmeralda, further proven by his song "Hellfire", which uses words such as "licentious", and explicitly states that he has sinned and is desperately begging for a way out. "D*mn" and "h*ll" are used a number of times in the film, but strictly in religious context. The crowd during the opening Festival of Fools scene may cause younger children discomfort, as they ties Quasimodo down and throw rotten food and other miscellaneous items at him in derision, exclaiming how ugly he is and how he should be kept in the bell tower of Notre Dame. There is also a very dark and frightening scene in the film's second act where Frollo sets fire to a house while a family is trapped inside, though Phoebus, captain of the guard, breaks into the house and saves them. There are numerous scenes of intense battle throughout the film's final hour as well. PERSONAL RATING: PG for some violence, suggestive themes and thematic elements

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Language
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.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
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.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 13 year old Written byTsion March 19, 2009

A Moving and Spellbinding Disney Classic!

This film, along with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and THE LITTLE MERMAID, represent the best of Disney. This film has it all: an engaging plot, depth, messages, fun music, and visual appeal. Adults will adore it, and so will kids, though they won't pick up on much more than the songs and visuals. The film has many, many religious songs and analogies, and one song entitled "Hellfire" elaborates on the villain Frollo's lust for the heroine Esmerelda. He speaks of "growing desire that's turning me to sin". He wants her to be his, or to be dead. He, in one scene, sensuously sniffs her hair. Violence is another issue, with several scenes that aren't any more violent than other Disney films, but are more intense. Some families might be uncomfortable with the frequent mentions of "burning in hell", etc.
Parent Written byNova H April 13, 2018

The Hunchback of Notre Dame - CONSIDER WATCHING WITHOUT YOUR KIDS BEFOREHAND

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is an outstanding and truly inspirational movie - with a few exceptions. The villain, Frollo, has a sexual, twisted longing for Esmeralda, the main character. One of the scenes, where he sings "Hellfire" may be slightly confusing for smaller children, as he pleads God to either kill or bring Esmeralda to him. And, in one of the earlier scenes in the church, Esmeralda encounters Phoebus, where they engage in a duel. At one point, Esmeralda gets out a "Son of a--" before Pheobus interrupts. Then, Frollo arrives and displays his lust for Esmeralda by clutching her from behind, rubbing his hand along her throat, and smelling and pushing his face into her hair. In addition, some parents might think that Esmeralda's dress is a bit too flashy and shows off too much skin, and her dancing is not appropriate. But, this is easy to explain for some by saying that it is her culture. The movie displays some violence as scenes depict a house, with a family inside, being burnt down, and France in flames. The film shows the glowing eyes of a devil stature, clinging to Frollo as he falls, flailing, into the fire hundreds of feet below. Overall, however, this movie has some inspirational role models. Esmeralda, compassionate, strong, and kind, shields Quasimodo from hurtful words and actions, and stands for justice. The movie teaches a very good lesson that we should not stand apart because of our differences, because they remain outside, not in our hearts. However, before you consider watching this with a child below twelve or even thirteen, judge it yourself and deem if it is appropriate for your child because of the sexual lust and violence.

This title contains:

Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Adult Written byMonera June 17, 2016

Excellent movie for Deep Thinkers

Yes, many of the themes are very mature, like sin and genocide and religious corruption as well as discrimination, but kids can handle it. Why do we feel the need to shield our kids from anything but bubbly fun stuff? This movie would never be released with a g rating today, but kids then could handle it. It's important that the hard topics be brought up, like injustice so we can better spot it and stand up to it, like Esmeralda. Genocide happens when hatred and prejudice get out of hand. Religious leaders aren't perfect and are still human and can fall to human vices. The "ugly" character can be the good guy and doesn't always have to "get the girl". Also, it brings up some great history, as it takes place in the Middle Ages! Some other topics to talk about I would offer are: How is the theme of religion used in the story? Is Frollo's actions consistent with the message of Christianity? In many movies the bad guys explicitly do evil because they like evil, but Frollo believes he is actually doing good. Think of some real life "bad guys" and research their motives for doing evil, like Hitler, for example.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byRavenflightTheN... December 21, 2015

Mature But So Good!!!

This movie is amazing!!! The songwriters really outdid themselves on this one! So, here's what you need to know: Violence: Oh, baby. For a Disney flick, there's a ton. But most kids will probably take the darker side in stride. Still, here are some common offenders. The song "The Court of Miracles" could scare some kids. But it also has a lot of humor so most will be fine. The treatment of Quasi is something a lot of parents have mentioned, and I agree that even older kids will likely be saddened by this. At one point Esmeralda, the spunky, kindhearted heroine that the girls will love appears to be dead and survives an execution attempt. (Burning At The Stake!!!) She turns out fine, but kids will worry. The song "Hellfire" has some scary images, and the sequence afterward is harrowing (Frollo Burns Down House with Family Still Inside, Even though Phoebus, a friend of Esmeralda and Quasi saves them.) Frollo's death isn't graphic, and kids will most likely be cheering. Sex: Esmeralda wears a low cut dress and dances, but it's, like, a cultural thing. The song "Hellfire" has some parents worried, but most kids (me included!) just think he wants to kill her. Language: Aforementioned Villain song. H*ll and D^^m used in a religious context. Drinking:I could be wrong, but I think there may have been some wine. Overall: 9 and under: Keep them in the Tower. 10 and up: Let them go and enjoy the festival!
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...

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Adult Written byMaria F. April 19, 2017
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, while still a kids movie that's made by Disney, should be rated PG and it's a story that's more for someone that's 10 years old or older. The words "hell" and "damnation" are thrown around quite a lot, Frollo expresses a lot of sexual thoughts when it comes to Esmeralda (he even puts his hand on her face and smells her hair and there is also the song Hellfire), there is also some drinking, and there is a ton of violence ranging from physical bullying of Quasimodo to Frollo being killed by molten lead. Phoebus is also shot in the shoulder and almost executed after he saves a family.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Language

Pages