The Last Unicorn

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Last Unicorn Movie Poster Image
Classic '80s animated fantasy has some scary moments.
  • G
  • 1982
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 31 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 16 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

A sprinkling of "hell" and "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 g... Continue reading
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... Continue reading
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 :) I... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byyese30 December 6, 2016

Very Distubing (warning this review has spoilers for your safety)

Even though it is very well animated, it has very disturbing action thematic events and imagery. Don't let the "rated G" fool you, the story can... Continue reading

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?

The Last Unicorn is an early example of the artistry of Japanese animation, combined with an imaginative, unique concept and terrific storytelling. It has easily 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.

Talk to your kids 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

Themes & Topics

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