Reluctant Dragon, The

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Parental guidance under 6 (substance use)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Reluctant Dragon, The
  • a review of Reluctant Dragon, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 9 June 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Suitable for this age group, however, parents may want to give historical context, for example in regard to smoking which was an acceptable social norm in the 1940s and the associated risks were not well-known.
Children aged 6 and over Ok for this age group though please note above recommendation.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Reluctant Dragon, The
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: The content is very mild in impact.
Length: 74 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

California, 1941, Robert Benchley (as himself; note: Robert Benchley was a well-known American humourist at the time) finally gives in to his wife's nagging to pitch a movie idea to Walt Disney: the children's story of The Reluctant Dragon. While she is convinced that it is a great story and opportunity, Benchley is worried he will make a fool of himself. At the Walt Disney Studios, on the way to his meeting with Walt, Benchley meets studio artist Doris (Francis Gifford) who takes him on a fascinating tour of the Walt Disney Studios. Benchley visits a drawing class where students learn the art of animation; he witnesses a film score and voice recording scene, where he meets Clarence Nash – who gave Donald Duck his voice; joins a sound effect session; and learns how thousands of hand-drawn and coloured images are created, put together, and turned into an animated film. When Benchley finally meets Walt Disney (as himself) and is about to propose his pitch, he is invited to watch a short film that has just been finalised – only to realise that someone else had the same idea because what he sees turns out to be the story of The Reluctant Dragon.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Glimpse behind the scenes; understanding how things are made; old-school animation; Disney characters.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

  • There is no violence in this movie.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

  • It is unlikely that any scenes in this movie could scare or disturb children in this age group.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

  • It is unlikely that any scenes in this movie could scare or disturb children in this age group.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • It is unlikely that any scenes in this movie could scare or disturb children in this age group.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Walt Disney Studios
  • Disney Characters
  • The Reluctant Dragon.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A couple of minor characters are seen smoking, including inside and in presence of children.
  • During one of the animated sections (Baby Weems), the nervous expectant father is calming his nerves by chain-smoking.
  • It has to be acknowledged that this film was made in 1941, when smoking was an acceptable social norm and the associated risks were not well, if at all, known.

Coarse language

  • None noted.

In a nutshell

The Reluctant Dragon is an impressive testimony of the early days of animated films and Walt Disney's pioneering work which formed the foundation of all modern animation. Children and adults alike are likely to be impressed seeing the incredible amount of work and attention to detail it took to produce an animated film long before the invention of computers. Viewers get an educational as well as entertaining insight into the different steps involved, from sketching a storyline, hand-drawing and colouring each single frame, to the creation of sound effects, voice-overs, and soundtracks. The animated sections, in particular the titular "The Reluctant Dragon", are adorable and funny. Parents may want to give some historical and cultural context, highlighting that this film was made nearly 80 years ago.

The main messages from this movie are that it is worth looking behind the scenes in order to understand and appreciate the incredible effort taken. The featured animated short film "The Reluctant Dragon" has its own message which is that one should not judge a book by its cover – in this case for example assuming that a dragon is a vicious, violent, destructive beast because this particular specimen turns out to be a shy, gentle, and poetry-loving creature.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • creativity
  • attention to detail
  • humour
  • open-mindedness.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of:

  • being curious
  • teaching interesting facts in an entertaining, relatable way
  • appreciating historical achievements
  • awareness of how society and culture changes.