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The King and I Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 8+

A boisterous, big-costumed classic musical.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film characterizes the ancient Asian culture of Siam (now Thailand) as backward and sexist. The king has dozens of wives and hundreds of children, which may bewilder kids. Also confusing, the roles of the main Thai characters are played by white and Latino Americans. But the story's music and enchanting characters are perfect for kids, who are likely to see the king's poor grasp of English as endearing and fun. But older children and adults may find the portrayal of the king racist.

  • Families can talk about Thai history and culture. Were the clothes, dance styles, and culture in the movie true to the culture?
  • What do you think about movies that don't cast Asian actors in Asian roles? Can you think of other examples of that happening?
  • Do you think you could play the role of someone of a different race fairly? Do you think the actors in this film were fair?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true1

    Educational value: Gives a flavor of the culture of Siam (Thailand).

  • message true0

    Messages: There's a lot of fun made of the king for his poor grasp of English; he's made into a fool. While the film is set in the country know known as Thailand, none of the primary characters is Asian. The king is also sexist, thinking women more "lowly" than men in general, and certainly much lower than him. Many of the songs teach life lessons, like how to deal with fear and how to learn about a new culture.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Anna, the teacher, is intelligent, forthright, and stands up to the king. The king is portrayed as stubborn and sexist. The king has dozens of wives and hundreds of children, which may bewilder kids.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence and scariness: The king threatens to whip a slave girl who tries to escape to be with her lover. Talk of someone drowning.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Some close dancing, but no kissing or sexual behavior. There's a lot of talk, however, about women being "made to please men" and the king has multiple wives. When the Thai ladies are dressed up in European gowns, they "wear practically no undergarments," prompting them, in a moment of shock, to hike their dresses and flash English men. But nothing is seen on screen.

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The king passes out cigars, though no one smokes onscreen.