A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A simple reminder that we can always find our way home, and that with a little help, we can overcome our fears.
Strong themes of perseverance and teamwork when facing challenges and fears and standing up for your friends. The central characters' friendship allows them to act selflessly and courageously. Other themes include integrity, empathy, and gratitude.
Positive Role Models
Dorothy is a fine example of courage under fire as she embarks on her potentially dangerous quest, aided by new friends. She stands strong against the Wicked Witch and ultimately defeats her. She's also compassionate toward the characters she meets in Oz and quick to help them. The other characters fight for each other and face their fears to help Dorothy.
A female hero faces off against a female villain, while men play nearly all of the supporting roles. Everyone in the cast is White. Over 100 actors with dwarfism are cast as the Munchkins, and all are dubbed with high-pitched voices. Glinda the Good Witch ties character to physical appearance when she says "only bad witches are ugly." The Wicked Witch of the West wears prosthetics to make her nose and chin larger. Behind the scenes, The Wizard of Oz credits Florence Ryerson, a female screenwriter, and Blanche Sewell, a female editor.
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Violence & Scariness
The Wicked Witch of the West is quite creepy and menacing, as are her scary henchmonkeys and her abrupt arrivals/departures. Some kids may also be frightened during the twister scene and/or upset by Dorothy's separation from home and family. The trees that attack the friends are mean and vicious.
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Dorothy calls Ms. Gulch "a wicked witch."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the 1939 fantasy The Wizard of Oz is based on the L. Frank Baum book and stars Judy Garland as Dorothy. It has several scenes of peril, almost all of which involve the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) and her band of creepy flying monkeys. Most parents who've seen the movie before know that the plot includes a disastrous tornado and an enchanted forest full of red-eyed creatures and talking trees. By today's rating standards, this Hollywood classic is downright tame, but between the twister, the peril, and the witch's general menacing, murderous intentions, some younger or more sensitive kids could be frightened. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director Victor Fleming's film is a masterpiece of early cinema. Not only does The Wizard of Oz have one of the most iconic leads and one of the finest examples of the hero's journey, which has influenced every epic quest tale from Star Wars to Harry Potter, but it's also a magical combination of drama, adventure, fantasy, and musical. It's a testament to the movie's universal appeal that many decades later, The Wizard of Oz is still culturally significant -- from Halloween costumes to sing-along-shows to remixes of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
Garland, who was only 16 when Oz was filmed, is sublime as Dorothy, especially when she sings. Although contemporary moviegoers may be used to precocious young "triple threats" marketed by Disney and Nickelodeon, Garland was one of the first. Her impressively mature voice soars beyond the rainbow and into viewers' hearts. Beyond Dorothy, there's the amazing trifecta of theater-trained actors (Lahr, Bolger, Haley) who played her yellow-brick-road companions. Hamilton is deliciously evil as the green-skinned witch, and Burke is memorably comforting as the beautiful good witch Glinda. Everyone should experience The Wizard of Oz multiple times in their lives; it's simply a must-see film.
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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.
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