The Nutcracker in 3D

  • Review Date: November 25, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Big-screen remake of ballet is too dark for little kids.
  • Review Date: November 25, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 110 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Many positive messages, including how grown-ups shouldn’t lose touch with their whimsical side just because “real life” has overtaken the magic of childhood. Also, that children and their ability to believe in the fantastic have much to teach adults. Plus, that toys are to be cherished and cared for, not trashed and treated as if they have no value.

Positive role models

Mary is feisty and will protect those she cares for; she also demands to be heard, which offers an example to children who may feel like they have no voice. Uncle Albert is joyful in demeanor. But the Rat King is petty and power-hungry. His mother is devious and uncaring, and even young Max shows off his naughty, destructive side (though he does gain an appreciation for his sister in the end).


A man is shown whacking others with a shovel. Machine gun-bearing soldiers roam the streets. The Rat King enjoys taking photos of kids crying after their toys are confiscated and burned; he hangs the pictures on the wall. The Rat Queen bites her son’s ear. Soldiers kidnap the Rat King’s enemies, some of whom are children, and throw them in a cage. A boy likes to destroy toys. A character uses a man’s head to crack a walnut with force.

Not applicable

In one instance it sounds as if the Rat Queen says “whore.”

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A talking monkey smokes a cigar.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this version of the classic Nutcracker holiday tale bears only a passing resemblance to the famous ballet and story that inspired it. Viewers expecting the whimsy of the original may be downright confused, enraged and -- if they’re 8 and under -- frightened. Here, the Rat King is a Hitler-like villain with the desire to burn children’s toys and a combative relationship with a dysfunctional mother (she bites his ear out of anger). Other disturbing scenes include a drummer boy (who appears human) whose head is yanked off and tossed around. Soldiers are shown wielding machine guns, and one character smokes a cigar. And the 3-D presentation makes some of the scary parts even more intense.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The holiday season seems so much brighter for 9-year-old Mary (Elle Fanning) after a visit from wild-maned Uncle Albert (Nathan Lane), who tells wondrous stories and brings with him a gift: a nutcracker. Unlike most gifts, the nutcracker -- NC for short -- is truly magical: He comes to life and takes Mary with him on a fantastical journey to his homeland. She soon discovers that NC was once a real-life prince (Charlie Rowe) who was put under the spell of an evil Rat Queen (Frances de la Tour) and her son (John Turturro), who has made himself king of the prince’s land. The Rat King wants the prince dead so that he can reign in terror. And because he’s scared of the sun, he continues to burn all of the children’s toys so that a cloud of smoke will hang over his domain. But Mary’s not having it, and neither is the prince. Even Mary’s naughty brother comes to the rescue in this movie based on the E.T.A. Hoffman story and Tchaikovsky ballet.

Is it any good?


Remaking a classic rarely happens without controversy, especially so when it's a story (or ballet) as entrenched as The Nutcracker. And, unfortunately, THE NUTCRACKER IN 3D by no means does justice to the original (far from it, in fact, with little dancing and some lyrics -- yes, lyrics -- pegged onto Tchaikovsky’s music). The 3-D effects seem unnecessary and -- frankly -- perhaps tacked on to generate a few extra dollars at the box office.

And for a film that’s clearly intended to appeal to kids, this Nutcracker feels too apocalyptic and dark, with its references to Nazi Germany, for younger viewers (though Turturro, who’s almost always pitch-perfect, is puzzling rather than scary as the evil Rat King). Still, Fanning is a delight as Mary, managing to infuse the production with some semblance of wonder. And though the story here has been diluted at best, its underlying message of the beauty of a child’s imagination still rings true. That’s a relief.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this movie compares to other versions of The Nutcracker. Is it scarier? Why? What audience do you think it's intended to appeal to?

  • What made Joseph forget what he was like as a young boy? Do you think parents sometimes act like they’ve never been kids? What's the message behind this storyline?

  • Does the Rat King seem scary or troubled?

  • What does the Nutcracker mean to Mary? Is he a figment of her imagination? Why did he appear?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 24, 2010
DVD release date:November 1, 2011
Cast:Elle Fanning, John Turturro, Nathan Lane
Director:Andrei Konchalovsky
Studio:Freestyle Releasing
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Arts and dance, Holidays
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic material, scary images, action and brief smoking

This review of The Nutcracker in 3D was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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 7 and 10 year old Written byellimatu November 30, 2010

please stop the horrifying images for kids

please take your child to see the nutcracker at the ballet or at least watch it on PBS. It is so magical, beautiful, makes a child wonder and think and find beauty. This movie has so many horrifying images - kids get enough of the terrible images on TV these days. There are things in this movie that scared me!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 11 years old November 29, 2011


What other families should know
Great role models
Parent of a 10 year old Written bylelik January 23, 2011
I love this movie, and my 10 year old son loves it too. We live in Europe. American mentality is just too shallow to understand that kind of movie. American parents don't understand that kids can think over difficult subjects. They can read meta messages. American mentality needs the movies with meaning chewed already. European movies differ in the way that they make you digest. They make you think. And Americans just don't like to think. As for violence in the movie, kids do have a lot of horrors (just read Freud about it). The director shows the typical children horror and proposes the solution to them (to overcome it). Americans don't understand that the main idea of the movie is to make kids understand that no magic things change life, but they themselves (that's why the fairy couldn't help). This understanding comes with thinking over characters' actions.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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