Picture from Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone
Overall B

Harry Potter has finally stepped out of "the cupboard under the stairs" and onto the big screen--an event long anticipated by anyone who knows they are a "Muggle" (someone without magical abilities).

Violence C
Sexual Content A
Profanity B
Substance Use B+

MPAA Rating: PG for some scary moments and mild language.

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter has finally stepped out of "the cupboard under the stairs" and onto the big screen--an event long anticipated by anyone who knows they are a "Muggle" (someone without magical abilities).

The movie faithfully recounts the first novel in J.K. Rowling's best selling children's series of an orphaned infant who is left in the care of his neglectful aunt, uncle, and obese cousin. Life changes drastically for the eleven-year-old (Dan Radcliffe) when a letter arrives inviting him to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Besides revealing his curious genealogy, Harry also learns of his parents' untimely demise at the hands of the evil Voldemort, a confrontation that left young Harry with his trademark lightning bolt scar.

The excitement of entering the ancient castle housing the school hardly compares to the magic Harry feels after making friends with Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). Settling into their studies of spell casting and potion making, they soon discover a teacher's involvement in an evil plan. Their investigations lead them into the arms of a giant club-wielding troll, the jaws of a formidable three-headed dog, and the dark forbidden forest where they must serve a detention.

J.K. Rowling's books have stirred up a cauldron of debate among parents concerned with the "hocus-pocus" occult themes pervading her works--leaving many as likely to be offended by the portrayals of witchcraft in this movie, as they will be by the fantasy violence. Darkness pervades this film, which offers many scenes brimming with scary music and Halloween like imagery including partially decapitated ghosts, death by magic wand, an evil being who seeks fresh unicorn blood, and a few surprise "boos." Like the novel, Harry Potter may be too scary for young children.

Yet this softhearted wizard never forgets his love for his parents and the importance of working together to support his friends, allowing him to become a courageous doer of good. If your family has enjoyed the books, chances are your date with Harry at the movies will be just as enchanting.

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