Time Bandits

  • Review Date: October 18, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 1981
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Fun fantasy has a bit of bite.
  • Review Date: October 18, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 1981
  • Running Time: 110 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Throughout, the movie advocates reading and an appreciation for both the factual and mythological aspects of human history. Its dwarf protagonists address themes of tolerance for those different from oneself.


Considerable cartoonish violence. A man's arm is ripped off during an arm wrestling match. The Evil Genius blows up many of his dimwitted minions. A firing squad executes prisoners. A hungry dwarf captures a rat and eats it. One can see the feet of previous victims hanging from the ceiling of an Ogre's ship. There is an attempted suicide. Kevin's home is burned down and his shallow parents are blown up at the movie's conclusion.

Not applicable
Not applicable
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that kids will see a good deal of cartoonish violence (a man's arm is ripped off during an arm wrestling match, a hungry dwarf captures a rat and eats it, severed feet hang from the ceiling of an ogre's ship, etc.). Two characters are blown up at the end, but they aren't depicted as very nice people. Also there are scary creatures, and depictions of a supreme being and his nemesis that some will find objectionable. The bandits are pursued by the Supreme Being, i.e., God, who seems to have created the world in a slapdash manner. They also encounter the Evil Genius, or Devil. Throughout, the movie advocates reading and an appreciation for both the factual and mythological aspects of human history. Its dwarf protagonists also address themes of tolerance.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Young Kevin is fascinated by history, but his materialistic parents are too busy planning their dream kitchen to pay attention. When a group of bickering dwarves appears in Kevin's bedroom, he's in for the history lesson of his life. The dwarves are time bandits, former employees of the Supreme Being who have stolen his map of time and space and plan to loot history of its greatest treasures. Kevin joins them through a time hole, and is soon rubbing shoulders with such luminaries as Napoleon, Robin Hood (John Cleese), and Agamemnon (Sean Connery), as well as giants and ogres. The Evil Genius, the Supreme Being's nasty rival, lures the group into his Fortress of Ultimate Darkness and steals the map so he can destroy the world. Now the time bandits must recover the map and prevent armageddon.

Is it any good?


TIME BANDITS is an enjoyable romp meant to appeal to the adventurous child in everyone. Directed by "Monty Python's Flying Circus" animator Terry Gilliam, the movie takes its young hero on an absurdist tour through various times and places in history. A considerable vein of black humor and irreverence runs through the movie, giving it a sharp edge not often found in kids' fantasies.

The film's look is and special effects are impressive and imaginative, but the plot and characters are somewhat inconsistent and the satire is frequently harsh. Older kids may find the black humor hilarious, but it's questionable viewing for the very young. Still, the film's virtues easily outweigh its flaws and it's a perfect movie for those who prefer their fantasy with a bit of bite.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how humor of this nature, somewhat satirical and dark, often has very serious things to say. Did you detect any serious themes behind this comedy, such as questioning authority, the nature of the universe, or the nature of time?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 6, 1981
DVD release date:January 27, 2004
Cast:John Cleese, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall
Director:Terry Gilliam
Studio:Anchor Bay Entertainment
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:parental guidance suggested

This review of Time Bandits 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.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byjames brown April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Alright Movie

I'm not saying this movie isn't bad, it's just...average. Also I felt kind of bad after watching this movie, because God is sort of portrayed as a...sisy. some parts of the movie are really funny, but some arent that good at all. I'd say the rateing they gave it is just. you should just keep to monty python
Parent of a 7 year old Written byloghlr January 10, 2011

Not Gilliam's best, but good for kids.

The arm wrestler pulls off a fake arm -- not scary. Violence is mild.
Parent of a 10 and 15 year old Written byLeighj January 14, 2011

Great for all ages. Wonderful introduction Gilliam films.

This movie is one that people either love or dismiss. While it can be watched in the context of Gilliam's 'Trilogy' (i.e. Brazil, Baron Münchhausen) it can be enjoyed by tweens and up. It may be a bit cheezy in effects after all it's an 80's move but it has the level of violence that would be found in many a 11 year old's day dreams. It does have some Pythonesque humor and some accents may be difficult to understand. But overall a movie to see at least twice to understand all that it has to offer.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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