Hunchback of Notre Dame, The
G
Entertainment: +3 1/2
Acceptability: +1

Victor Hugo's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME has been transformed by Disney animators into an extravagant musical adventure. Although there are serious elements, it provides enjoyable entertainment. Quasimodo (voiced by Tom Hulce), the misshapen bell-ringer of Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral, has been secluded since infancy by his guardian, the pious but sinister Judge Frollo. In spite of his deformities, Quasimodo becomes an athletic young man who longs to experience life outside the cathedral. With encouragement from three imaginary stone gargoyle pals, he sneaks into the Feast of Fools festivities. When he is crowned King of Fools and attacked when the crowd realizes his identity, beautiful gypsy dancer Esmeralda (Demi Moore) comes to his rescue. Quasimodo, touched by Esmeralda's kindness, uses his acrobatic skills to help her escape Frollo's soldiers. Distressed by desires for Esmeralda, Frollo orders Phoebus (Kevin Kline) to hunt down this fugitive and locate a gypsy hideout. Quasimodo and Phoebus, who has fallen for Esmeralda, decide instead to warn of an impending attack, triggering a final confrontation between the forces of good and evil. The film has a number of intense scenes, but its appeal is enhanced by a lovable hero, delightful musical numbers, lots of laughs and a happy ending.

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME features moments that very young viewers may find scary and intimidating. However they are in line with the source material and its message that physical appearance is not a reflection of inner qualities. The film-makers establish Quasimodo as a sympathetic character with a good heart, while rollicking musical numbers keep the positive energy flowing and balance the serious scenes. The script does make changes with Frollo; a Catholic archdeacon in Hugo's novel, he is now a government official. He puts up a saintly facade but his heart is dark, with little sympathy for anyone not like him. In this film adaptation, the archdeacon is a separate character, a positive influence who defends the sanctity of the church and questions the judge's actions. Another commendable religious element emerges in a heartfelt prayer for the downtrodden presented by Esmeralda in the song God Help The Outcasts. The film does have some moderately intense fighting and chases, particularly in a battle sequence, and Frollo falls to his death in a fierce confrontation with Quasimodo. Esmeralda's dance is rather seductive, and another song features Frollo agonizing over his lustful desires as he visualizes Esmeralda's figure in some fiery flames. Parents should be aware of some fairly frightening scenes and adult themes, although they do not seem unnecessarily provocative or intense. However, they do make THE HUNCHBACK undesirable for children under age six.

Preview Reviewer: Mark Perry
Distributor: Buena Vista (Walt Disney Pictures), 3900 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, CA 91521

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Several times - Moderate (fist fights, man assaulted, man struck in head, man hit with arrow, battle sequence with swords and other weapons, man falls to his death, threatening chases)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Woman dances seductively, man expresses lust
Drug Abuse: Drinking, smoking
Other: Gambling, palm reading shown
Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Ages 6 and older

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