In a letter to his nephew, Frodo, hobbit Bilbo Baggins sits down on his 111th birthday to tell of the greatest adventure he ever had (also setting up the prequel to the Lord of the Rings
trilogy). 60 years prior, Bilbo's ordinary, comfortable way of life was jarred once he reluctantly joined the wizard Gandalf and thirteen colorful dwarves on a quest to help them get back what rightfully belonged to them.
In true odyssey form, the movie's different chapters leave the protagonists encountering one difficulty after another on their trek across Middle-earth, bringing to mind other classic, odyssey adventures like The Wizard of Oz
or The NeverEnding Story
To see Tolkien's story brought to life by Peter Jackson on the big screen is nothing short of art. From the narration and music to the acting, visuals, and smart dialogue, everything is perfectly thought through. Kids will hear words like "necromancer" and be teased with brainy riddles. Because of this, I didn't mind the violence, which wasn't as bad as I expected.
There are violent moments in the film, but except for one scene at the end, they are not gratuitous and they are few and far between. For that one scene, it would be easy to shield young kids' eyes. However, I'd leave kids under 9 at home, as they may be frightened by the trolls, Gollum, and the general fast pace.
The different encounters the group of friends endures are amazing to see. From the giant eagles swooping down to carry them to safety to the wall of mountains that turn into Transformer-like creatures whose fighting sets off perilous avalanches, there is nothing lazy about this film. Why didn't I even notice that the film was nearly three hours? It whizzed by.
The producers changed or embellished parts of the 1937 book by J.R.R. Tolkien a bit for the movie adaptation, but the essence of the original story, which centers on main character Bilbo Baggins's personal growth from simple homebody to confident adventurer, is the same. Bilbo remains the heart of the story, and witnessing how he grows from his good-natured, hobbit ways but never sells out on his values is still as current a theme as ever. It's the reason why The Hobbit
has been a beloved story for 75 years.
Running Time: 2 hours, 49 minutes
Julie Samrick is a stay-at-home mom of four young kids and the founder of Kid Focused, a site devoted to children and family issues. Subscribe to the free Kid Focused newsletter delivered weekly to your inbox and connect with us on Facebook too. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.