Parents' Guide to

The Spiderwick Chronicles

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Book-based family fantasy is magical fun but also scary.

Movie PG 2008 97 minutes
The Spiderwick Chronicles Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 27 parent reviews

age 14+

Very Scary

My kids kept asking to stop this movie and change to another. We prefer movies with a Christian message.
age 18+


This movie was terrifying for my 8 year old daughter. There were far and few magical beautiful moments. My daughter was crying through the movie and afraid of the dark after the movie. I do not recommend.

This title has:

Too much violence

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (27):
Kids say (51):

Highmore -- an expressive, gentle-faced young actor in the mold of Haley Joel Osment -- does a fine job handling the twin brothers' disparate personalities. Likewise, Bolger, who co-starred in In America, is great as a big sister who knows her way around swords (she's an award-winning fencer). Both actors propel the film forward as kids caught up in a sometimes frightening fantasy world. The goblins and head ogre are scary without being terrifying like the orcs in The Lord of the Rings, and there are two memorably silly sidekicks: tiny, honey-loving house goblin Thimbletack (voiced by Martin Short) and gross-out, bird-hunting goblin Hogsqueal (Seth Rogen). Both lighten the dark mood considerably and will be beloved by younger viewers.

Those expecting a sophisticated CGI spectacle a la Peter Jackson or Robert Zemeckis may leave the theater disappointed. But director Mark Waters isn't aiming for a George Lucas-style epic employing revolutionary technology. His vivid adaptation of author Holly Black and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi's award-winning book series conveys magic with shots of swirling, flying dandelions carrying Mr. Spiderwick or colorful flowers turning into sprites. With an engaging script co-written by John Sayles, Waters has managed to ably adapt a kids-as-heroes story that parents will be happy to sit through without snoozing. And when it comes to family films, that counts for a lot.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

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