A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that though there is no swearing and the violence is hardly believable, there are some scenes that may frighten young or particularly sensitive children. The witches cackle into the screen and threaten to hurt Mildred. And Agatha aims gunfire-like spells at Mildred, causing explosions all around her. Ethel also bullies Mildred.
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What's the story?
Mildred Hubble (Fairuza Balk) is the worst witch at Miss Cackle's International School for Witches. She can't balance her kitten on her broom. She fails a potion-making quiz when she turns herself invisible instead of making a laughing potion. And she's plagued with doubt because, after all, her mother wanted to be a witch but "didn't have the gift." Add to that the competitive bullying nemesis Ethel Hallow (Anna Kipling) and a disastrous performance in front of the Grand Wizard, and you get a very hopeless witch indeed. But when she discovers a plot to take over the school by some mean witches, she may just get the chance she needs to prove herself.
Is it any good?
While the special effects are laughably cheap and the musical numbers are atrocious, that's part of the charm of this DVD. Parents of a certain age will appreciate the kitschiness of Balk as an innocent witch, in her pre-crazy-goth-lady days, and will love Facts of Life den mother Charlotte Rae as both the sweet-as-pie Miss Cackle and as her inexplicably Southern-accented evil twin Agatha. These are milder scares for kids not ready for the magic of the Harry Potter world. But there are still some moments of cackling witchiness and exploding spells that aren't for the very young or sensitive.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how children can overcome their shyness and insecurity to share their special gifts with the world. How does Mildred learn that her skills are valuable? Why does she doubt herself? When do you doubt yourself? If you've read the books, how do they compare?
- In theaters: October 16, 1986
- On DVD or streaming: August 24, 2004
- Cast: Charlotte Rae, Diana Rigg, Fairuza Balk, Tim Curry
- Director: Robert Young
- Studio: BFS Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters
- Run time: 70 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: September 19, 2019
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