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Parents' Guide to

Quiz Show

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Outstanding drama about morals and our choices.

Movie PG-13 1994 133 minutes
Quiz Show Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 10+

Great but..,

Common Sense missed details on the sexual category. There is a passionate kiss with visible tounge lasting solid 8 seconds and the woman (in ref to something else) says "It's not sex". This made my 10 year old extremely uncomfortable and I was unprepared. Other details are in other User Reviews.
age 14+

Quiz Show Content Details (User-Generated)

Violence: None Sexual Content: Some characters flirt with the main character. Women wear low-cut dresses. A woman can be seen with part of her blouse open and quickly buttons it when company arrives. Some dancing, although not in a sexual context. Language: One use of the f-word. A couple of uses of "godd**n", and a few uses of anti-Semetic words. Alcohol / Drug Use: Several characters smoke cigars and cigarettes; one scene shows a character smoking in his wife's bedroom. An ad for tonic accompanies the quiz show Twenty-One. Several drinking scenes.

This title has:

Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (3 ):

This is an outstanding drama that provides an excellent opportunity for examining the way that people make moral choices. Stempel cheats because he wants to be accepted and respected, and because he believes that is the way the world works. Nevertheless, he is outraged and bitter when he finds that he himself has been cheated; the producer has no intention of living up to his promise to find him a job in television. Meanwhile, when first presented with the option of cheating, Van Doren reflects ("I'm just wondering what Kant would make of this"), and then refuses. Once on the program, however, he is given a question he had answered correctly in his interview. At that moment, what is he thinking? What moral calculus goes through his mind? Is this the decision to cheat, or is that a separate decision, later?

In Quiz Show's most painful scene, Van Doren must tell his father what he has done. Why did he do it? The movie suggests that it was in part a way to establish himself as independently successful, out of the shadow of his parents and uncle. He enjoyed the fame and the money. He argues that no one is being hurt by it. Goodwin, on the other hand, sees that it's wrong, and never for a moment hesitates when the producer tries to buy him off. Yet, as Goodwin's wife points out, he makes his own moral compromises when he tries to protect Van Doren. In part, he does it because he is after those he considers the real culprits. But in part he does it because he likes Van Doren, and because as much as he takes pride in being first in his class at Harvard, some part of him still thinks that the Van Dorens are better than he is. Some kids won't be able to sit through the talkiness of this movie. But for those that do, you'll all be richly rewarded with plenty to discuss on morals, choices, class, big business, the early days of TV, and so much more.

Movie Details

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