Parents' Guide to

The Aviator

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Howard Hughes biopic has mature themes, violence.

Movie PG-13 2004 166 minutes
The Aviator 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 9+

"The way of the future." Should've been an Oscar for Leo.

age 14+

I think I like it more than most people

I found this movie very engaging despite its nearly three-hour run time. The character of Howard Hughes was oddly sympathetic with profound character development. His tragic fall was really a joy to watch.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (34 ):

A true story that is both touching and thrilling and tons of talent on both sides of the camera are enough to make this a good movie, but not enough to make it a great one. Hughes' larger-than-life story could easily fill six movies, so even this energetic and muscular three-hour-epic feels like it's just skimming the surface. There's no way to try to cover even this one section of Hughes' life without making it feel like a "greatest hits" clip job instead of a story with a real narrative arc. And it never rises from incident to insight.

The second problem is Leonardo DiCaprio, who is a brilliantly gifted actor, but here his squint, tics, and accent make Hughes seems more like a kid struggling with ADD than the tortured larger-than-life tycoon. But no one does pageantry better than Scorcese, and this is a brilliant film, even with its flaws. Cate Blanchett brings Katherine Hepburn to life. Kate Beckinsale is adequate as Ava Gardner. The crash scene is bone-chillingly harrowing, and the scenes of old-time Hollywood reflect the director's deep love of that era. Like the life it depicts, it's uneven and fascinating.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: December 17, 2004
  • On DVD or streaming: May 24, 2005
  • Cast: Cate Blanchett , Kate Beckinsale , Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: Miramax
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 166 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: thematic elements, sexual content, nudity, language and a crash sequence
  • Last updated: June 9, 2023

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