Parents' Guide to

The Phantom Tollbooth

By Paul Trandahl, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Clever artistry fails to convey the book's depth.

Movie G 1970 90 minutes
The Phantom Tollbooth Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 1 parent review

age 7+

Great Book!!

As a kid, this book was one of my favorites. It educates young readers and makes learning fun.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (3):

Although it fails to make an emotional impact, verbal cleverness and impressive imagery make PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH worthwhile for those seeking more challenging entertainment. Based on a highly recommended book by Norman Juster, this feature-length cartoon offers a startling change of pace. Directed by animation legend Chuck Jones, the story does not involve a quest for love or identity, nor is it an animated retelling of a classic fairy tale. Instead it strives to depict the beauty of knowledge. Plunging its young hero into an Alice in Wonderland-like dreamscape is only partially successful, however.

The biggest problem is a meandering first half. Nevertheless, the movie has its rewards for the patient viewer. Its visualizations of various states of minds are fun to watch as Milo encounters the Lethargians, and faces down the Demons of Ignorance, all with clever names. Much of the film is a feast for the eyes. Maurice Noble, Chuck Jones's frequent collaborator at Warner Brothers, designed the stylized environment of the Kingdom of Wisdom. His conceptions of the bizarre landscapes are stunning. All in all, this is a worthwhile film with a very good message: Knowledge makes the world a better place. While probably too cerebral for younger children, older kids and even teens should enjoy it, and they may learn something in the bargain.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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.

See how we rate