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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while the overall message of The NeverEnding Story, which encourages children to become lovers of books, is a positive one, the scary adventures that take place in the film will scare very young children. The faceless "Nothing" sets out to destroy the land of Fantasia, and while the hero of the film has no weapons (at least until the story's end), he does engage in a bloody clash with one of the Nothing's emissaries. Other potentially upsetting incidents involve a steamrolling monster, bullies throwing a child into a Dumpster, and a beloved horse being sucked into a swamp.
What's the story?
THE NEVER ENDING STORY centers on young Bastian Bux (Barret Oliver), who escapes his troubled life in a dusty old bookstore. The store owner tells him not to look at the book The NeverEnding Story, but Bastian does anyway. He becomes engrossed in the story, in which boy warrior Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) seeks to save the land of Fantasia from becoming destroyed by a mythical force known as the Nothing. Atreyu also is charged with finding a cure for a dying girl known as the Childlike Empress. On his adventure, he meets a bumbling elderly scientist, a flying dragon, and a swamp monster, among other characters. After a near-deadly clash with one of the Nothing's servants, a wolf-like creature who informs Atreyu that the loss of hope is the worst offense of all, the warrior fears all of Fantasia to be destroyed. In the end, a young girl that literally draws Bastian into the book, calling for a child's imagination to save the empire from destruction.
Is it any good?
Both children and adults will enjoy this film for its special effects, beautiful scenery, and colorful characters. Most of all, The NeverEnding Story's message of daring to dream and soaring to new heights through books is a powerful one that kids of any age can relate to.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether a fantasy tale like The NeverEnding Story can be compelling without being scary.
Families can also discuss the value of reading books, and how they can almost transport someone into another world. In the movie, that fantasy becomes a reality -- a distinction parents may wish to point out.
They may also discuss a lesson from Bastian's father, who warns the young boy not to become overly caught up with his imagination. Are there times when kids' heads should indeed be in the clouds?
- In theaters: August 3, 1984
- On DVD or streaming: February 3, 2004
- Cast: Barret Oliver, Gerald McRaney, Noah Hathaway
- Director: Wolfgang Petersen
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters
- Character strengths: Empathy
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: frightening scenes
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.