The Last Unicorn



Classic '80s animated fantasy has some scary moments.
  • Review Date: July 20, 2005
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1982
  • Running Time: 93 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

More nuanced and complex messages than in most animated children's movies. Finds positive value in a wide range of emotions: love, regret, self-sacrifice, and experiencing the magic in life. Encourages acceptance of the fact that everything is not easily resolved; characters must make difficult choices. Reflects challenges of finding out who an individual is at heart and his or her place in the world.

Positive role models

A variety of heroes are curious, courageous, resourceful, loyal, loving, and determined. Most central characters learn much about themselves and are able to adapt to their environments and what's required of them. One villain's evil behavior is motivated by his state of constant depression; the other human villain is driven by a desire for recognition and fame.


Some grotesque characters terrorize the heroes. A fierce, fireball-like red bull chases, menaces, and threatens to attack the heroic characters in numerous sequences. An evil witch is ugly, sneering, and mean and keeps the unicorn and other creatures in cages; several of those creatures are visually frightening. A fierce harpy attacks the unicorn and the witch. (Spoiler alert: It appears to brutally kill the witch.) An eerie skeleton cackles, threatens, and toys with the heroes.


A prince and his sweetheart kiss. A huge tree appears to have bizarrely large breasts that threaten to crush a sympathetic magician. A few other visuals show large cartoon breasts.


A sprinkling of "hell" and "damn."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A creepy skeleton drinks a jug of wine and becomes drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Last Unicorn is an unconventional, mythological family film. Not a typical fairy tale with a traditional good-vs.-evil plot and happy ending, it has sad moments, challenging decisions to be made, and no easy resolutions. The story -- about a unicorn who fears she may be the last of her species on earth and sets out to find the others -- was original and offbeat when it was made and remains so decades later. Though the film is often funny and lyrical and has a tender story with a strong musical spine, younger or very sensitive kids could find a number of sequences and visuals extremely scary. A flaming red bull rampages through and threatens the most vulnerable characters. A hideous witch, along with the ghoulish creatures she holds captive, is grotesque and menacing. A ferocious harpy (a legendary flying monster) attacks and destroys. A huge tree appears to have bizarrely large breasts that threaten to crush a sympathetic magician, and a few other visuals show large cartoon breasts. The movie has been released on video and DVD several times since it was first shown in theaters in 1982. The Enchanted edition is the classic movie at its best, both visually and conceptually, with terrific bonus features updating the history and steadily powerful impact of the film.

What's the story?

THE LAST UNICORN finds a graceful and gentle unicorn (Mia Farrow in a touching, thoughtful performance) concerned that she may be the last unicorn on earth. The unicorn knows that her species is immortal, so she leaves the beauty and security of her forest to travel the world and find out what happened to the others. Her odyssey sends her to strange and unfamiliar places; introduces her to an array of bizarre and wonderful characters; puts her in grave danger from some dastardly villains; and, most unexpectedly, finds her transformed into a beautiful woman who falls in love with the handsome Prince Lir (Jeff Bridges). With two trustworthy accomplices, a stumbling wizard named Schmendrick (Alan Arkin), and a bandit leader's wife named Molly Grue (Tammy Grimes), the unicorn learns much about herself, solves the mystery of the missing unicorns, and must finish with a profoundly unselfish deed.

Is it any good?


An early example of the artistry of Japanese animation, combined with an imaginative, unique concept and terrific storytelling, The Last Unicorn has maintained its place in fantasy moviemaking history. Budget limitations meant that directors Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass, author-screenwriter Peter S. Beagle, and producers Martin Starger and Michael Chase Walker had to aspire to greatness in unorthodox ways. They were able to gather a wonderful cast of character actor, including the witty Robert Klein, Christopher Lee at his most full-voiced, and Angela Lansbury at her most witchy, and Jimmy Webb wrote the stunning music, performed by the rock band America. Though it's not a movie for everyone -- certainly not for little kids who could have nightmares populated by the Red Bull and the witch -- there is enough romance for the romantic, enough philosophical reflection for the most serious students of human nature, and enough laughs and funny insights for those who love to be amused. Highly recommended, with special kudos to the Enchanted edition for its wonderful extras.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how The Last Unicorn is, and has always been, considered "unconventional" and "original." What are some of the things that separate it from other animated fairy tales and adventures? Though it was made decades ago, how is it still unique?

  • Did watching this movie inspire you to read the book from which it was adapted? Would it surprise you to know that the book is a fantasy classic and was popular with both young adults and adults? What do you think makes a book a classic?

  • How did the music in this film, written by Jimmy Webb and performed by the rock band America, set the tone and the tempo and enrich the story for you? Do you like or not like the fact that music sometimes tells you how to feel while you're watching a movie?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 20, 1982
DVD release date:June 9, 2015
Cast:Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow
Directors:Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures
Run time:93 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of The Last Unicorn was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 4, 5, and 9 year old Written bybchicmomma September 20, 2009

Not a movie for kids at all!

This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. My children also thought so. There is a scene were a magician turns a tree into a woman's form and her giant boobs are smothering him-- my 5 year old son and 9 year old daughter thought it was really weird as did I. Then a harpy-- a vicious hawk-like bird with two sets of dangling human-looking boobs is seen killing and presumably eating an old witch. A prince falls in love with a woman (a unicorn) and for the life of us we cannot figure out why except that she is beautiful-- she is sad and mopey and complains the whole time. I have read other sites and this movie has a cult following and is admitted by these people that it is not a film for kids and should not be marketed as such. There is also a very scary giant menacing bull that gave my kids nightmares. We watched it because a trusted friend with kids the same age said her kids loved it, but then she admitted that she had never watched it with them. I found nothing redeeming about this movie at all.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written bynduns August 8, 2009

Okay, CS, do you even PAY ATTENTION half the time?

Dude, the prince in this movie states the very message this film is getting across near the end. Honestly, you people just don't realize how well-written this movie is, but I guess that's alright. Nor do the vast majority of critics out there. Yes, it gets confusing at times, and perhaps it's a little overwritten, but it's still a beautiful film and one of my personal favorite fantasy movies.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byAnimeAelita November 19, 2009

Cute movie...

Another movie I used to love as a kid, it made me cry, but I still loved it! I would watch it over & over again, always singing along to the songs :) It is a bit violent, & sure there are a couple 'scarry' looking creatures...But the only age group that should scare, is under 4years old...If it scares any older kids-than they're babied...Please don't take that the wrong way parents... There is NO bad language at all, mild violence, & a little bit of magic, but it's a cartoon! You never see anyone actually die, that old witch, the harpy decends upon her, but you never see her die {sure it's implied & that's what happens, but still} Overall i think it's a decent movie for all ages :) When I was little, I got scarred easily, this did not scare me at all! ^_^


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