Poll: How old are your children? (select as many as apply)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Movie #31: The Worst Witch (1986)

"Has anyone seen my tambourine? I might start playing 'Begin the Beguine'!"

Minimum Recommended Age: 6 (Common Sense Media: "On for ages 6 and up")
Quality Rating: 60% (3 Common Sense stars)
Number of Lists Recommend: 2
Running Time: 70 minutes
Main Child Character Age: 12
What does it have to do with Halloween? The Grand Wizard comes to the school on Halloween to view the Broomstick formation


Mildred Hubble is the 'worst' student at Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches. She is well-meaning but does things without thinking. The benevolent headmistress, Miss Cackle, is generally understanding, whereas Mildred's form teacher, the virago Miss Hardbroom thinks she just isn't trying hard enough.

Those of us who fondly remember watching made-for-TV Halloween specials in our youths may not yet be familiar with this nugget from the mid-80s.

Not to be confused with the British television series that began airing in 1998 (thanks to the popularity of the Harry Potter books), the 1986 telefilm is based on the same series of books by Jill Murphy.

Described as "for kids not ready for the magic of the Harry Potter world", one can't help but notice the parallels: a British gothic academy where children learn how to use magic, a teacher who's out to get the main character, animal companions (in this case, kittens), a kind-hearted headmistress. In fact, Ms. Murphy is insulted by the comparisons. But that's not why we're here. We're here because this film ranked #31 in our countdown.

You know what, I'm not going to tell you about this film. I'm going to let the always-entertaining X-Entertainment do that for me. And if that doesn't convince you to watch this one with the kiddies, I don't know what will.


Common Sense says "Slow-paced magic adventure for the pre-Potter set"

Watch Out For

Not much, really, unless your kids are frightened by "comic accidents" or you are offended by insults such as "pathetic dumbo", "basket case", "shut up", "dum-dum", "stupid", "idiot", "abominable child", or "evil-hearted, mean-spirited, no-good, rotten pig".

Don't worry, it's only a mask

She'll always be Mrs. Bond to me...

Mildred is about to have a "comic accident"

Don't worry, kids, it's only an illusion

Talk About It

From Common Sense Media:
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?

Of Note

  • AOL places Miss Cackle (Charlotte Ray) at #19 and Mildred Hubble (Fairuza Balk) at #11 in its list of The Top 20 TV Witches
  • You can read the entire script here. Or you could just watch the whole thing (scroll down and watch it already).

Watch It


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