The Pagemaster

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Pagemaster Movie Poster Image
Weak Macaulay Culkin fantasy with some cartoon violence.
  • G
  • 1994
  • 76 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

References and briefly introduces some classic literature.

Positive Messages

Sometimes you have to fight to make a wish come true. Reach deep inside and seize the courage to confront fears. Books open the door to great adventure and knowledge.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Parents are portrayed as loving, concerned, and responsible. Very cautious boy is able to overcome his fearful nature and begin to enjoy the world around him.  A librarian is depicted as bizarre and less than helpful.

Violence & Scariness

Lots of pratfalls and cartoon action; no one is seriously hurt. In the live-action sections, Dad falls from a tree house; 10-year-old Richard first crashes his bike and then slips on a hard floor, losing consciousness momentarily. Animated sequences contain scene after scene of cartoon peril: more characters falling repeatedly, a scary hound, Dr. Jekyl's transformation into Mr. Hyde, ghosts, a dragon, a threatening electrical storm, and more. Spooky music and effects accompany some of the above, heightening the suspense.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's lots of cartoon action in this film but no one gets seriously hurt. Characters fall from great heights and immediately come back to fall again just moments later. The hero and others are captured, then escape and immediately come back to get captured again. With a mix of animation and live-action, there are swashbuckling pirates, threatening sharks, scary hounds, unhinged authority figures, and a fire-breathing dragon with ghostly accomplices. Ominous music and spooky colors and sound effects heighten the suspense, but except for the youngest or most sensitive kids there's no real sense of jeopardy.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byVohaul November 9, 2020

A good film, but a bit dark.

This movie was intended to get kids interested in reading by turning it into dark action film. However, that means it might frighten children under the age of n... Continue reading
Adult Written byJules-A-Rama September 2, 2015

The film's hear this in the right place.

The Pagemaster means well. I personally don't see what is so bad about it.

All it wanted to do was to display the joys of being able to read and imaginat... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMaddiehamel June 8, 2021
This movie is amazing!
Teen, 13 years old Written byLittlelotte April 17, 2020

Fun movie for kids

Great Macaulay Culkin movie, very colourful and entertaining. Only concern is very young children might get frightened in some scenes

What's the story?

Timid and fearful Richard Tyler (Macaulay Culkin) can recite accident statistics for nearly everything that might be fun. When he's sent on an errand riding the bicycle that he's "enhanced" for safety, Richard gets caught in a storm and takes refuge in a strange library, with an even stranger librarian (Christopher Lloyd, replaying his oddball inventor from Back to the Future). A fall and bump on the head transport Richard into an animated world of books and fictional characters. He's desperate to find his way home. In his efforts, he is accompanied by three cartoon books: Fantasy (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg), Adventure (Patrick Stewart), and Horror (Frank Welker). Together the team gets into and out of lots of trouble until Richard finds the courage to make his own way back to the library's illusive "exit" sign.

Is it any good?

The concepts behind this movie are admirable. A young boy who is fearful ultimately finds the courage to participate in life, and kids learn the joy to be found in various genres of literature and books. The execution, however, fails to illuminate the messages in either a clear or imaginative way. Fictional characters are introduced in a smattering of short action scenes, which neither make them appealing nor give them any purpose other than to battle and do harm. The scenes that are supposed to inspire Richard's courage are so badly constructed that the audience never experiences the boy's move past his fears to save himself or his friends. Worst  of all, with the exception of one cleverly-drawn scene in which a painting deconstructs to wrap the library in brilliant color, the animation is unimaginative and ordinary at best.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difference between real fear and imagined fear. What are you afraid of? Which fears do you have that you think might be exaggerated or not based on reality?

  • Richard meets an array of fictional characters in the library. What are some of your favorite fictional characters? Do you ever imagine that you're a part of their stories or even that you are that character?

  • What are some of the best things about having a good imagination? Can you identify the line that separates "pretending" and "lying"?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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