The Witches

  • Review Date: October 18, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1990
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Some kids will love it, some may find disturbing.
  • Review Date: October 18, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1990
  • Running Time: 91 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence & scariness

Scary witches, children in peril, including baby in carriage pushed down a hill (and rescued), Luke's parents are killed in an (offscreen) accident, which does not seem to bother him too much.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this story has a genuinely twisted flavor that some children will love and others will find disturbing. Luke is exceptionally brave and enjoys being a mouse (in the movie, he is changed back, but in the book, he stays a mouse). Children may be upset not only by the witches, but also by the death (offscreen) of Luke's parents and his seeming indifference to it.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Luke hears about witches from his grandmother (Mai Zetterling). She says they have to wear gloves to hide their claw-like hands and shoes that fit their square feet without toes, and that they are bald and scratch under their wigs. They have a purple gleam in their eyes. They are evil and they steal children, who are never seen again. Luke's parents are killed, and his grandmother takes him to England. When she is diagnosed with mild diabetes, the doctor advises a vacation, so they go to Cornwall. As it happens, a convention of all the witches in England is staying in the same hotel, posing as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Their leader is slinky, black-clad Eva Ernst (Anjelica Huston). Luke overhears her telling the witches to wipe out all the children in England by turning them into mice, and he watches as she demonstrates by giving a potion to a greedy child named Bruno, transforming him into a mouse. The witches find Luke, and after a chase, capture him and turn him into a mouse. With the help of his grandmother, he steals some of the potion, and puts it into the soup to be served to the witches, who are all turned to mice, except for Eva's assistant. Luke manages to get Eva's trunkful of money, along with her notebook listing the addresses of all the witches in America, and he and his grandmother plan to go after them.

Is it any good?


This story has a genuinely twisted flavor that some children will love and others will find disturbing. Children may be upset not only by the witches, but by the death (offscreen) of Luke's parents, and by his seeming indifference to it.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the notion of witches. Are you fascinated or disturbed by the idea of these strange women with magical powers? Why do you think most witches are portrayed as evil?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 24, 1990
DVD release date:June 22, 1999
Cast:Anjelica Huston, Jane Horrocks, Rowan Atkinson
Director:Nicolas Roeg
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Book characters
Run time:91 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of The Witches 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, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Educator and Parent of a 9 year old Written byRunesong October 13, 2011

Great choice for tweens who are not up for blood & guts!

This movie begins with a definitely old world feel which may be a little weird or creepy for today's American kids & I think it's meant to be a little ominous & foreboding. There is just enough grossness & scare for tweens while remaining completely free of the usual blood, guts, & body parts, explicit language, or inappropriate sexual situations. The villainess is convincing in this classic good verses evil plot, but the main character shows us how anyone can become a hero born of necessity. He also demonstrates important values such as keeping a positive attitude under less than ideal circumstances & a desire to help, & even befriend, those in need despite his own troubles. I didn't know about the book all these years, but I'm definitely going to find a copy now that I do!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written bysuper movie reviewer January 2, 2010
i watched this in school and me and my class liked it. Although i don't like as much as i used to. This movie is more for kids than adults and teens.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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