Parents' Guide to

2001: A Space Odyssey

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece is still relevant.

Movie G 1968 141 minutes
2001: A Space Odyssey Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 29 parent reviews

age 12+

This 1968 visionary masterpiece about human error is undoubtedly a masterpiece for all ages old enough to understand

2001: A Space Odyssey follows Dave, a member of the discovery crew en route to Jupiter lead by Hal 9000, a super-computer intelligence completely free of error, or so he says. The film’s story is told along three different chapters, one of which takes place during the dawn of man, another following a government official discovering the first signs of alien life and the third (taking up most of the movie) following Dave on the discovery. This third chapter in particular is very intense and frightening, as there are scenes of mostly implied murder and intense imagery and peril. The scene is not recommended for general audiences aged 12+ due to content, however, it is solely due to the complexity of the film. VIOLENCE: MILD While the violence isn’t graphic, brutal or bloody, there are times when scenes in which violence is taking place can be quite intense and shocking. The entire film from start to finish has an eerie, dark tone and the film borders on horror at times during the final act where multiple people are murdered in various ways off camera. An ape violently beats another ape to death with a bone. The ape twitches and shakes on the ground before being beaten to his eventual death. There is no blood shown but the scene is meant to show that apes revolutionized to humans during the discovery of violence. A man floats through space in order to fix a satellite dish on the top of the space station. The entire scene is accompanied by his breathing during this process. Eventually, however, the robot in charge of the mission goes haywire, attacking the man somehow during his float through space. The breathing stops and he goes flying through space quickly, implying he was struck with an object or lost life support. His body (which is likely dead) floats through space. Another man retrieves it with his ship, but has to let the body go into space. He is killed. A man turns on the emergency door in his “pod” so that he may fly into his space station without a helmet. This is extremely dangerous as his head could likely explode from pressure. He tenses his face, and the door explodes and he goes flying out quickly shutting the airlock. He survives but the scene is very suspenseful. Several people in cryosleep have their life support shut off by a robot who has lost its sanity. Their vitals are shown flatlining in the intense and shocking scene one by one. Each of their vital systems turn off one by one making their deaths, while not shown, very intense. LANGUAGE: MILD A brief use of “damned” and a few uses of “hell”. There is essentially no use of profanity and the film is almost completely clean in every way. OVERALL: 12+ for some violent material and intense/frightening images
age 7+

Some scary moments, but nothing too objectionable.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (29 ):
Kids say (103 ):

This science fiction masterpiece can be a mind-boggling experience for kids old enough to handle it. In a series of dramatic vignettes, 2001: A Space Odyssey introduces kids to cosmic mysteries and gives them an opportunity and an incentive to grapple with issues that span the millennia. Younger tweens may be impressed by the drama, the special effects, and the beautiful music but may have a hard time following the plot. In addition, they will lose patience with some of the longer segments dealing with space exploration. (The special effects used by Kubrick were revolutionary in their day but will seem commonplace to children raised on Star Wars and Star Trek: The Next Generation.)

Even older kids may not appreciate the subtle references to political rivalries and intrigue on earth, the cover-up of mysterious developments on the moon, or the more ironic aspects of the clash between man and machine (HAL the computer plaintively crying that he is afraid and that he can feel his mind going is a poignant example). But most teenagers cannot help but be swept up in this film, which stretches their minds and gives them mysteries and uncertainty instead of endings where everything is neatly tied up with a bow. As kids strive to deal with the uncertainty of the ending ,and fill in its gaps and illuminate its gray areas by drawing upon their own personality and sense of the world, they are on their way to appreciating greater and more mature forms of art.

Movie Details

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