Victoria & Abdul parents guide

Victoria & Abdul Parent Guide

Despite all the attention to detail of this lavish production, the plot drags on -- a lot like Adbul's extended stay as companion to Victoria.

Overall B-

In her later years, Queen Victoria (played by Judi Dench) became very friendly and motherly with Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a young man sent from India to serve in the royal household. This movie dramatizes their relationship and the kerffuffle caused by the monarch's preferential treatment of the dark-skinned foreigner.

Release date September 22, 2017

Violence B
Sexual Content B-
Profanity C+
Substance Use B

Why is Victoria & Abdul rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Victoria & Abdul PG-13 for some thematic elements and language.

Run Time: 111 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

Who knew Queen Victoria of England had a humble Muslim from India as a confidant? As unlikely as it sounds, it is true. Their story (described in a book by Shrabani Basu) is the bases of this movie – although screenwriter Lee Hall is quick to point out that he amply applied artistic license to this telling of the tale.

In 1887, Abdul (Ali Fazal) and Mohamad (Adeel Akhtar), another subject of lowly birth, are chosen by officers of the ruling English class to travel to London and present Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) with a token of appreciation from the country she had presided over as Empress of India since 1876. After a four-month sea voyage, a day or two for clothes fitting and a brief lesson on court manners (which includes the strict command to avoid looking directly at Her Majesty), the pair is whisked into the royal dining room to bestow the gift. After what amounts to only a couple of minutes of ceremony, the representatives are supposed to make a hasty exit, get back on the boat and head home. Instead, Abdul uses his few seconds in the spotlight to steal a quick glance at the Queen. And they make eye contact.

The momentary connection prompts Victoria to order another service assignment for the handsome visitor… and his companion. Abdul is greatly honored by the opportunity, and takes advantage of the meeting to charm the crusty head-of-state once again. Mohammed, on the other hand, is sickened by the idea of having to pay homage to a ruler who has been foisted upon his homeland.

Abdul manages to make a big enough impression on the Monarch that their return voyage is further postponed. Vitoria’s preferential treatment soon has the members of her household feeling just as disdainful as Mohamad, although their objections have more to do with race and social class. As days turn into weeks, months and years, Abdul is promoted from footman, to secretary, to travel companion and even Victoria’s personal tutor of Indian languages. And with each elevation in status comes increased indignation from the royal court.

This dragging on of an awkward situation isn’t just a challenge for the people depicted in the movie – it is the main problem with the plot as well. Although moments of the script are amusing, not much really happens between the elderly Victoria and the man she calls the Munshi (teacher). Her curious material affection remains unwavering regardless of the concerns and interference of her servants, royal heirs and political associates.

Other disappointments with this lavish production are the inclusion of profanities and remarks about a sexually transmitted disease. While the issue of discrimination is front and center, it is skirted around and never really confronted. So, despite beautiful art direction, amazing costumes and great actor performances (Judi Dench is exceptionally good), the meandering movie does little to reveal insight into the personal motives of these characters—and even less to engage the viewer in this little-known piece of history.

Directed by Stephen Frears. Starring Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Olivia Williams, Michael Gambon . Running time: 111 minutes. Theatrical release September 22, 2017. Updated

Victoria & Abdul
Rating & Content Info

Why is Victoria & Abdul rated PG-13? Victoria & Abdul is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some thematic elements and language.

Violence: Characters are bullied and demeaned. An angry character shouts and throws things. Characters plot against others that they deem their inferiors. Threats are made. Characters are physically thrown out of their home and their property destroyed. Characters discuss rebellions and political unrest.

Sexual Content: Mild sexual references are made. A sexually transmitted disease is mentioned, and a man’s good character is questioned. Bodily functions are briefly discussed. Some art depicts nudity.

Profanity: One use of the sexual expletive in a non-sexual context. Frequent use of mild profanity and terms of deity. Infrequent use of scatological slang, name-calling and racial slurs.

Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters smoke and drink alcohol.

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More parents' guide for Victoria & Abdul after the break...

Victoria & Abdul Parents' Guide

What do you think motivates Victoria to form a relationship with Abdul? Why do you think he courts her attention? What challenges to finding real friends might be faced by a person in a prominent position?

What does the royal household think about the foreigner? Why do they feel so superior to him? How have attitudes about race and class changed since Victoria’s time? Have some things stayed the same?

News About "Victoria & Abdul"

This movie is based on a book, Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen's Closest Confidant, by Shrabani Basu, that recounts the true story of the unusual friendship between a queen and a servant. Learn more about the real Abdul Karim.

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Victoria & Abdul movie is December 19, 2017. Here are some details…

Home Video Notes: Victoria & Abdul
Release Date: 19 December 2017
Victoria & Abdul releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) with the following supplements:
- Featurette: Judi & Ali
- Featurette: The Look of ‘Victoria & Abdul’

Related home video titles:

This long-lived queen's early years are dramatized in the movie The Young Victoria. Judi Dench can also be seen in Philomela and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.