Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Personalized picks at your fingertips

Get the mobile app on iOS and Android

Parents' Guide to

Mona Lisa Smile

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Glossy entertainment value but far from art.

Movie PG-13 2003 110 minutes
Mona Lisa Smile Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 13+

Nice entertainment

I enjoyed the movie. The leading character is an interesting personality with her goals well defined fighting against a crusted authocratic establishment.
age 15+

Such a wonderful film!

I love it! This film is fantastic! The first time I rented it years ago I fell in love with it instantly & bought it soon thereafter. It has said to be a girl version of the Dead Poets Society movie, but not as meaningful. It's set in the 1950's and it has a very realistic, genuine feel throughout. The acting is superb and the chosen actors couldn't of been better! It's a film about finding yourself, making changes and going for what you love...not for what is expected of you. It has a lot of good messages throughout and great role models. It's a fun movie for probably older teens and up (tweens and teens don't seem to appreciate this movie, because they probably don't understand it's meaning). There's no violence, several discussions of sex and affairs but the content is not that strong like CommonSense suggests for some reason. Drinking & smoking is present. Language is pretty clean except for a few slips like @ss, d@mn, screwing (no "F" words that I remember) and whoever says this movie is bland, doesn't have much taste. This one is a gem!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (6 ):

MONA LISA SMILE adds up to glossy entertainment that is a long way from art. In the movie, a vibrant and independent-minded teacher shows her students a paint-by-numbers kit for a Van Gogh picture to show them the difference between art that is insightful and meaningful and mindless repetition of pretty images. The problem is that the movie has a paint-by-numbers script and little more to offer than pretty images.

All of the actresses look wonderful in their elegant little hats, white gloves, twin-sets, tulle, and pearls. And teacher-student is one of the most reliably appealing relationships to portray in a movie. But there is no real insight or spirit in the movie and its dumbed-down portrayal of the post-WWII, pre-Betty Friedan era is particularly disappointing, limited to images of conformity like girls rowing crew and practicing synchronized swimming and a poster explaining the ladylike way to cross one's legs and references to the wish to return to the "normal" days before the war. Katherine's character is inconsistent to the point of being erratic, especially with regard to her own romantic involvement. Roberts is reduced to relying on movie star tricks like her "game girl" laugh and moist gaze to fill the gaps.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate