The Worst Witch

  • Review Date: October 16, 2007
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1986
  • Running Time: 70 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Slow-paced magic adventure for the pre-Potter set.
  • Review Date: October 16, 2007
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1986
  • Running Time: 70 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Ethel bullies Mildred and plays a trick on her that causes her to crash to the ground. Mildred runs away from school after being humiliated. Mildred also overcomes her self consciousness and low self-esteem to stand up for herself and protect her school.

Violence & scariness

A lot of comic accidents. Mildred crashes her broom into a bell tower. She and other witches also crash into the ground. Agatha aims spells at Mildred that cause explosions all around her, but she isn't hurt by them.

Sexy stuff

All the students have a crush on the Grand Wizard.

Language

No swearing, but Mildred is called a number of mean names, including "idiot," "misfit" and "abominable child."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

Kids say

Not yet rated
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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?

QUALITY
 

This 1980s witch fable based on the popular young reader books by Jill Murphy is no Harry Potter, but harmless enough for a Halloween special.

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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 16, 1986
DVD release date: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

This review of The Worst Witch was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

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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Quality

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; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written byRebecca2221 November 2, 2013
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

this is my number 1 favorite movie!

My daughter wrote: I really like this movie and highly recommend it for kids and parents who humor bullies being shown how it feels to be a pig. The Worst Witch is all in all a good family film for all ages. Despite some rude language and the main character attempting to "run away" this family film is touching and hilarious. Unless of course you have someone in your family who is sensitive, you should definitely watch this movie!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Educator and Parent Written byakimball October 5, 2013
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

The perfect "before Harry Potter" story

I loved this movie as a kid and still love it today for nostalgic reasons. It was obviously the inspiration for the Harry Potter universe and is the perfect bridge before that 10 year old Harry Potter readiness. They use a few words like "stupid" and "sexy", but they are not used in an inappropriate way IMO. The villainous character, Ethel Hallow, calls names and is mean to Mildred, but she learns in the end that it was not right. The story is fun and interesting, best for ages 7-9 if they are tolerant of more slow pace, age-appropriate film.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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