Parents' Guide to

The King and I

By Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

A boisterous, big-costumed classic musical.

Movie G 1956 133 minutes
The King and I Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 7 parent reviews

age 8+

Good excerpt for one or two scenes that might be deemed inappropriate by some

Parents should know that the movie includes a few conversations and a scene of one of the king's wives having an affair with another man (the scene of the two lovers includes a couple of kissing and good and appropriate for any kids even as young as 6. It may harder for young kids to sustain interest as some of the dialogue is a bit complex and the movie is also somewhat long. A few other things to keep in mind: there are a few scenes of Buddhist worship.
age 10+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (7 ):
Kids say (7 ):

Like Breakfast at Tiffany's and Flower Drum Song, THE KING AND I is a classic movie with legions of followers and great music. But it's also, like those films, fraught with racial misrepresentation that may make some viewers uncomfortable. The real treat of this film is the charm of Brynner's king and the songs. The songs! Children will love "Getting to Know You" and "Whistle a Happy Tune." Romantics will love "Shall We Dance." And all viewers will likely be mesmerized by the performance of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

To a young child, the king's silly sayings -- like his dramatic "etcetera, etcetera, etcetera" -- and his odd dictated letter offering to send the U.S. some elephants as beasts of burden, are endearing and fun. But adults may be disturbed by how inept and parochial this king appears. Add to that the fact that none of the primary Asian characters are played by Asian actors, and you have a recipe for racial misrepresentation. Like Flower Drum Song and Mickey Rooney's appalling Asian caricature in Breakfast at Tiffany's, the Asian characters here are shown as meek, silly, and absurd. Anna is a remarkably strong woman for the 1860s, which makes for some great verbal sparring between her and the king. But the idea of a white woman coming into a foreign country and "civilizing" them -- while it sure goes with the thinking of the time period -- is disturbing.

Movie Details

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