The NeverEnding Story Movie Poster Image

The NeverEnding Story



Boy bibliophile becomes part of fantasy tale.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 1984
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Encourages the love of reading.

Positive messages

Stresses the power of a child's imagination and the importance of hope.

Positive role models

While the adventure begins when the main character opens a forbidden book, he acts bravely to save an endangered world and the Empress.

Violence & scariness

Some scenes will frighten young children, including a bloody clash toward the film's end and a faceless "Nothing" that sets out to destroy the land of Fantasia. Plus a steamrolling monster, bullies throw a child into a dumpster, and a beloved horse is sucked into a swamp.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while the overall message of this movie, 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 message of daring to dream and soaring to new heights through books is a powerful one that kids of any age can relate to.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether a fantasy tale 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 3, 1984
DVD/Streaming release date:February 3, 2004
Cast:Barret Oliver, Gerald McRaney, Noah Hathaway
Director:Wolfgang Petersen
Studio:Warner Bros.
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters
Character strengths:Empathy
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:frightening scenes

This review of The NeverEnding Story was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byWendi2345 March 26, 2009
Think twice before seeing with a group of children: The scene with the Sphinx shows the Sphinx's naked breasts, which caused my group of 4th & 5th graders to "hoot & holler" with delight.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent of a 8, 9, 10, and 12 year old Written byDoc Kaos April 21, 2010

Perfect for those 8-10 year olds

My girls and I have watched this a few times. I don't think they got into it as much back when they were 5-6, but now at 8-10 they really enjoyed it
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 2 year old Written bylola618 January 18, 2010
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?