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Movie Review: The Thief of Bagdad

Not Rated
Recommended for ages 3 and up
Run Time: 106 minutes
Quick Take: A prince battles for his throne in a 1940 gem that continues to delight all ages.

Bagdad is Even More Charming With Age

Though it is largely treasured as an early, special-effects textbook, this 1940 extravaganza easily held the attention of my 3-year-old daughter and 3-year-old nephew thanks to its flying horses, towering genie, giant spider and other fantastical visions.

Drawn from "The Arabian Nights" and based on the 1924 Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler of the same name, "The Thief of Bagdad" is endearingly archaic. If the acting is arch and some of the visual imagery unpolished, children who love tales of princesses and pirates, genies and flying carpets will still be swept up by the story.

If you don't want your kids to automatically dismiss movies made before 1990, the sooner you watch this with them the better. Like "The Wizard of Oz" or "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," it's a primer of sorts for young viewers, a way to show them that older movies were magical too.

Kids Will Like:
Abu's struggle to escape the giant spider's web -- a predicament now familiar to fans of "The Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter."

Parents Will Like:
Seeing some of modern cinema's most ingenious tricks employed for the first time. The movie's effects hardly hold up to today's standards, yet there is still something enchanting about watching a rabbit get pulled out of a hat for the very first time.

Heads Up:
Some shockingly graphic, though not gruesome, violence pops up here and there, including the stabbing death of a sultan at the hands -- all six of them -- of a seductive assassin. Also, Jaffar's designs on a princess aren't exactly explicit, but they're clearly unsavory.

Own It?
Yes. A special-effects time capsule, "The Thief of Bagdad" only gets more charming with age.



Josh Larsen's movie reviews also appear in the Naperville Sun and on his web site, LarsenOnFilm.com
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CeReality: 5 Families, 5 Stories, 1 Critical Meal

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