A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Violence & Scariness
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Explicit sexual references for a PG-13 movie, including promiscuous characters, adultery, and discussion of birth control (which was illegal in the era portrayed in the movie).
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Characters use strong language including an ugly anti-Semitic epithet.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink, some get tipsy or abuse alcohol, many characters smoke.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie has very explicit sexual references for a PG-13 movie, including promiscuous characters, adultery, and discussion of birth control (which was illegal in the era portrayed in the movie). Characters drink, some get tipsy, and some abuse alcohol. Just about everyone smokes. Characters use strong language including an ugly anti-Semitic epithet. Strengths of the movie include its efforts to address the issues that would be raised by the feminists of the 1960s and its positive portrayal of a gay character who is accepted without prejudice (though dismissed from her position for other reasons). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
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.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
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