The Hobbit – One Mom’s Admission

OK, let me preface this by saying officially this is not a review of The Hobbit. I’m about to admit something that may get me “unfriended” by my many Tolkien-loving Facebook friends and kicked out of the Patheos Catholic Channel for lack of street cred. Here goes:

I have never read The Hobbit.

or indeed any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I vaguely remember “Cliff noting” some Tolkien in high school days (don’t tell my teenager!) and I have napped on several occasions through all three of the epic Lord of the Rings movies. I get my Orcs confused with my Trolls, and I never really understood what was going on with that ring, or that creepy little Gollum guy.

Scandalous, I know. How can I even call myself a Catholic blogger?!

But guess what? That might make me just the perfect person to tell you about The Hobbit from a very simple perspective. If you want a stunningly-written review go straight to Steven Greydanus’ genius piece here – he’s a real movie reviewer! For another terrific perspective, read what my friend and fellow Patheos blogger Tony Rossi has to say in his fantastic article – he even mentions the special 48 frames per second filming process. For parents wondering about taking kids, this review has a great breakdown of the factors that contribute to the PG13 rating. My take on that was that it’s largely owing to the violence, which actually never felt gratuitous in any way.

If you’re still reading this and haven’t left due to my earlier admission of illiteracy, I’ll give you the bottom line:

I loved The Hobbit!

I was invited to attend a special screening, in 3D (which I honestly could have done without) and went in the company of my husband and son — both major Lord of the Rings movie fans. My son, who actually has read the books (or at least enough of them to do well on tests in school) had a lot to say about the movie’s lack of relationship to the original book. Not that he didn’t like it, but his “take” seems to echo that of reviewers who felt it departed from its origins.

Since I had no preconceptions, I left the movie theater entranced. The musical score was stunning, I loved the acting, the characters caught my heart, and I didn’t really even mind the battle scenes too much. I fell in love with Bilbo (Martin Freeman), rooted the whole way for the Dwarves (especially their leader Thorin Oakenshield beautifully played by Richard Armitage), couldn’t stand the Orcs and actually didn’t even really mind little Gollum (Andy Serkis). Indeed, Gollum was actually at the center of one of my favorite points of the movie, which I won’t spoil for you here.

Another of my favorite moments in the movie happens in a dialogue between Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett, who is amazingly gorgeous), when the wizard shares the following:

“Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. That is not what I’ve found. I found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I’m afraid, and he gives me courage.”

That moment, which had me grabbing simultaneously for my Moleskine and my kleenex, is at the heart of what I loved about  The Hobbit. I was captured emotionally by the relationships, the sense of loyalty, and most of all the idea of mission that is at the core of this story. While I could have done without a few of the battle moments, I’d go back to see The Hobbit in an instant (but not in 3D) and actually have plans to start viewing The Lord of the Rings over Christmas vacation.

I hope you’ll consider viewing this movie with your older children — I think it holds the potential for a marvelous conversation-starter about how we devote ourselves to the things that matter most in this life, even when this leads us well beyond our Hobbit-hole comfort zones and into perilous challenges. Once you’ve seen the film, I’d love to hear what you think.



About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of and the bestselling author of The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms.

  • Mark S.

    Ok Lisa, it’s good you came clean. If I may suggest something. Read the Hobbit. It moves along, reads easily, a very good piece of literature, and is not too long. Not a trilogy with many many pages. It’s the book I started with back when and got me interested in Tolkien for his ability to write a really good story.

    • lisahendey

      I may actually seek out an audiobook version – I know that sounds like cheaping out, but my reading life is completely overwhelmed these days!

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    Cate Blanchett IS gorgeous, and she doesn’t ever seem to age.

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  • Sarah Reinhard

    Lisa, you should read all the books and I say that not as a Tolkien freak (though I’m a fan, I steer clear of the uber-fans because, um, I don’t fit in and don’t like it THAT much, you know?). I discovered it during a dark time in my youth and the books were a world of their own. I reread them recently with Bob (well, I guess it’s already been more than five years), and found them to be better than I remembered.

    There are some great audio versions out there…wish I could recommend one, but I’ll bet you’ll sniff one out easily.

    Seriously. I have a bit of a hunch what your reading life is like (guilty myself of the same), but these are books you DESERVE to read. Really. I promise. A gift to you straight from the book angel. :)

    I’m hoping for a Hobbit-watching movie date sometime soon. But then again, though I thought the other movies were ok, I’m so rarely impressed with movie versions of books I love (though I am no purist, I cannot speak Elvish (nor do I want to) AND I don’t know that I can tell all the different kinds of bad guys apart).

    So, there you go. Mark’s on the right track with his suggestion, and I second and third it and fourth it, but as a friend, not as someone trying to convert you to Tolkien or the LOTR craziness. Just as a fellow bibliophile who can assure you that, indeed, it is reading that is a journey and a delight and that you will thank yourself for doing.

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  • Margaret

    I hate to suggest this, but watch the LOTR trilogy before reading it. They are wonderful movies in their own right, but do take liberties with the books. First time I watched, I had to fight against my grumbling about this, that and the other thing being changed. Enjoy the movies as movies. Then go read the amazingly fantastic books.

  • Lara

    Loved this piece. :) ok, so now can you tell us about your favorite moment that includes gollum?

    • lisahendey

      Lara, have you seen the film yet?