Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Rated: G

Length: 75 min.

Age: 4 and up.                      Commonsense Media sez: iffy for ages 4/5

Scary Factor: no real danger until the climax, when Maleficent turns into a dragon to battle the prince (scene is relatively brief)

Intense Scenes: far more suspense and chills than outright scares – Maleficent is wonderfully threatening; scene in which Aurora pricks her finger on the spindle is eerie and enthralling.

Bad Behaviour: Boozing – the two kings drink endless toasts to each other and a minstrel gets quietly sloshed under the table.

Language:  “fools! idiots! imbeciles!” barked by Maleficent at her underlings; she also mentions the powers of “hell”

Interests: fairy tales, princesses, knights, castles, dragons, magic, fairies

Next: Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Thumbelina



Captain Blood (1935)

Black and White

Rated: TV-G (TV rating)

Length:  119 min.

Age: 6 and up (more for complex plot and slow pace at start)

Scary factor/Violence: slaves are beaten, and one is branded as punishment (not graphic – offscreen); many battle scenes, but generally bloodless; one big swordfight on beach, but not graphic or disturbing

Sex: scene in which pirates party in a brothel/bar is pretty harmless

Other Bad Behaviour: fair amount of boozing, especially among the naughtier French pirates

Interests: pirates, sailing ships, history, old movies

Next: Treasure Island, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk

Finding Nemo (2003)

Finding Nemo

Rated: G
Length:  100 min.
Age: 4+ (but not an overly timid 4!)         Commonsense Media sez: 5 +


Scary factor: Marlin’s wife disappears in opening scene, the (offscreen) victim of a barracuda; throughout: much peril, many close escapes, but the pace is good, nothing lasts for very long so you should be able to sail right through. In the fish tank Nemo has the threat of a  ‘fish-killer’ little girl hanging over him, and takes part in escape plans in which he risks being sucked into the filtration system rotating blades. No real violence or gore. (Dory is accidentally smacked in the nose once and a little blood drips out, that’s it.)

Most scary: a huge shark chases Marlin and Dory, chase ends with underwater mines exploding (The shark scene occurs right after Marlin meets Dory, if you want to skip it.)

Next most scary: a creepy anglerfish chases them: see picture at the end of this review.  Anglerfish scene occurs after they chase the sinking swim mask into the darkest deep, if you want to skip it. Be sure, though, to watch to the very end of the credits, when the anglerfish gets his comeuppance.

Intense scenes: my daughter was bugged by the jellyfish scene. The jellyfish are rather passive, they don’t even seem sentient, but it is really creepy how they float in and surround the fish. Big suspense. Another one which bothered her was the scene inside the whale, when Marlin loses all hope. There isn’t anything overtly scary, but the intense emotions troubled her a little.

Interests: sea creatures, fish, boats, the ocean, fish tanks, dentistry (just kidding)

Next: a museum of natural history visit, or a visit to the zoo or aquarium; documentary movies about amazing sea creatures, movie: Ponyo


Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams (2007)

(straight to DVD)

Rated: unrated

Length: 56m

Age: 3 +

Scary factor: nonexistent

Interests: the Disney princess brand

Horton Hears a Who (2008)

Rated: G

Length: 86 min.

Age: 6 and up            Commonsense Media sez: 4 +

Scary Factor: One scene of Horton trying to cross a rickety swinging bridge above a chasm had my daughter (4) climbing the walls and whimpering. Also the vulture Vlad is rather creepy – he is made goofy through his dialogue, but this will be lost on younger viewers who will just find him threatening. Mob descending on Horton at end is rather intense, caging him and tossing the speck into boiling oil! Situation milked for optimum suspense.

Violence: treated as humour: Mayor gets stapler stuck in his head… twice; one animal character is drop-kicked; much fall-down slapstick stuff

Language: very harsh and sarcastic; a lot of name-calling: ‘moron’, ‘idiot’, and ‘boob’ (repeated many times, the ultimate insult levelled by the town council against the mayor: my daughter was still giggling about it days later)

Interests: elephants, jungle, Dr. Seuss

Next: Dr. Seuss books

Up (2009)

Rated: PG for some peril and action

Length: 96 min

Age: 6 and up        Commonsense Media sez: 6 +

Scary factor: pretty high, with those snarling dogs in attack mode; dogs in planes fly into each other and plummet to the ground; dogs attacking/biting each other; villain Muntz tries to kill heroes; guns firing; many near-falls from airborn house; Muntz falls to his death, though impact not seen

Intense scenes: opening montage showing Carl’s wife in decline and then Carl in the funeral home and in mourning

Interests: action, adventure, travel, ballooning, South America, dogs

Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child


Bob Graham, author and illustrator

Cambridge: Candlewick Press, 2002


Ages: 3+

Interests: fairies, city life, family, magic




Shirley Hughes, author and illustrator

London: Random House, 1977

30 pp

Ages: 2+

Interests: toys, family, siblings


The Three Poor Tailors


Victor Ambrus

London: Oxford University Press, 1965

23 pp

Ages: 3+

Interests: folktales


Shakespeare’s Theatre


C. Walter Hodges, author and illustrator

London: Oxford University Press, 1964

102 pp

Ages: 10 + (?)

Interests: drama, theatre history, British history, Shakespeare, London


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.