The Swiss Family Robinson

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Swiss Family Robinson Movie Poster Image
Mild peril, dated animation in tale of island survival.
  • NR
  • 2003
  • 47 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

This film is intended to entertain, not educate.

Positive Messages

Working together, families can accomplish a great many things.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Robinson family works together, drawing on the strengths of each family member, in order to carve out a life on a deserted island.

Violence & Scariness

Some cartoonish violence. A character has a dangerous interaction with a panther. A family on a boat shipwrecks and lands on a deserted island after a terrible thunderstorm. A bull herd charges the family. A volcano causes a small earthquake, sending characters falling to the ground and one of them gets knocked out. A trail of gunpowder is used to blow up the side of a ship and rescue the animals trapped inside. When the trail is lit, a dog chases after it, followed by a boy chasing after the dog, followed by a father who catches them all, and narrowly avoids getting blown up.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this early '70s animated version of The Swiss Family Robinson definitely shows its age. Younger viewers may or may not get on board with the dated animation, but the story itself is timeless. There are instances of minor cartoonish violence -- a boy comes face-to-face with a snarling panther, a volcano causes an earthquake, gunpowder nearly blows up and destroys a father, son, and dog, and a bull herd charges the family -- but no one is ever seriously hurt.

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What's the story?

When their ship washes ashore on a deserted island, the Robinson family must work together to survive, and ultimately thrive in their new home. Together, they build a treehouse in which to live, raise farm animals, and explore the island for other sources of water. Along the way, they must contend with monsoons, a volcano, a panther, and a bull herd, as the days turn to weeks, months, and years, and the Robinsons begin to doubt that they will ever be rescued. Through teamwork and tremendous effort, the family starts making a successful go of it on the island.

Is it any good?

Despite having all the hallmarks of cheap-o 1970s animation, this movie still manages to convey the classic, timeless tale in an economical and action-packed manner. Youngest members of the family should have no problem following along with what's happening, and as such, this could be a decent introduction to other, longer versions of this classic story.

That is, of course, if your family can get past the animation. Some of it appears out of focus, and the colors look faded, on top of the monotonous backgrounds, minimal movement, and characters who look basically the same except for their hairstyles. This will bother some more than others, but if you can tolerate it, consider The Swiss Family Robinson a dated yet entertaining entry course to a well-known tale of survival and family bonding on a deserted island.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how this story is based on a book. What do you think was cut out of this version? Do you prefer the story animated or live action?

  • If Swiss Family Robinson were remade today, how would it differ?

  • At one point during the story, the father tells one of us sons, "Books and learning are as vital to us as food and water." What does this mean, and why does the father hold books and learning in such high regard?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love cartoons

Themes & Topics

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