Parents' Guide to

Awakenings

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Robin Williams plays it serious in moving true story.

Movie PG-13 1990 121 minutes
Awakenings Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+

Fine duo of performances bogged down with sentimentality

Just a little research will prove that this was a successful Oscar bait movie: it was up for Best Picture among giants like "Dances with Wolves" and "Goodfellas." The other ultra-sentimental date favorite "Ghost" was also up for the prize. Though this isn't as sappy as that, it does have your OB staples: an Oscar-winner playing a man with a disease, Williams going against type as a shy, reserved doctor. If the human story hadn't shone out so well I would've deducted even more points. It's impossible not to smile when De Niro is able to use his own two legs to get from one place to the other. This isn't either of the two leads' best films, although De Niro gives a tremendous performance as recovering encephalitis victim Leonard Lowe, not just nailing the tics and speech, but the man's soul. Williams is wonderful, and even in a quiet role his explosive humor leaks out in small places if you watch carefully. It's like a much better, awards-friendly Lifetime movie.
age 11+

Good Psychological Medical Drama

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (8 ):

Directed by Penny Marshall, Awakenings is a powerful and moving story, brilliantly acted and directed. The movie is based on the book of the same name by neurologist Oliver Sacks, who was the basis for the character Malcolm Sayer. Like Malcolm, we can all use a reminder to appreciate the pleasures of being alive, including the pleasures that require us to take risks.

Teens will enjoy reading the Sacks book, and some of his others, especially The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars, with astonishing and compassionate descriptions of some of his neurology patients.

Movie Details

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