12 Angry Men Movie Poster Image

12 Angry Men

(i)

 

Outstanding Henry Fonda jury classic is still relevant.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: July 10, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1957
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

People given the legal responsibility to decide a peer's fate should not jump to conclusions based on preconceived notions about race, education, economic status, or other identifying characteristics. Police and prosecutors can make mistakes. Everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt, especially when quick judgments could lead to someone's death. The fact that this jury is made up exclusively of white males should be explained to kids as a sign of the film's time period.

Positive role models

Henry Fonda plays the sole juror voting to acquit based on reasonable doubt. Although he is verbally abused and called a bleeding-heart liberal by those voting in favor of the death sentence, he patiently and calmly enlists the curiosity and fair thinking of his fellow jurors to examine more closely the so-called facts of the case until they slowly agree that the prosecution's murder case might not be airtight.

Violence

A young man is accused of stabbing his father to death. Jurors nearly come to blows over disagreements about the case. One juror threatens to kill another in the heat of the moment. It's suggested that one of the jurors most eager to sentence a boy to death for murder has physically abused his own estranged son.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

One "damn."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Jurors smoke cigarettes throughout the movie. Biased jurors state as a "fact" that minorities drink too much alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 12 Angry Men is a gripping 1957 drama that makes much out of a simple situation (the ordinary deliberations of a jury) and setting (the room where they have been sequestered). Jurors smoke cigarettes throughout the movie. Biased jurors state as a "fact" that minorities drink too much alcohol. There is one "damn." A young man is accused of stabbing his father to death. Jurors nearly come to blows over disagreements about the case. One juror threatens to kill another in the heat of the moment. The fact that this jury is made up exclusively of white males should be explained to kids as a sign of the film's time period. Despite its age, this drama still has a lot to say about the principles on which the American justice system is based, as well as issues of prejudice.

What's the story?

"Nice bunch of guys, huh?" one juror remarks sarcastically after a particularly heated argument. The juror, played by Henry Fonda, replies, "They're about the same as anyone else." That observation is central to 12 ANGRY MEN, which creates mesmerizing drama out of an event that takes place many times every day throughout the United States: A man is tried by a jury of his peers.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Though this is an older film, its examination of the jury system is as valid as ever, and it may be even more important today when media sensationalism has such a strong effect on public perceptions. The movie stresses that the most crucial issue is not whether the jurors think the accused is guilty but, according to the law, whether that has been proven "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Henry Fonda, perfectly cast as a man who values reason, leads a troupe of familiar character actors in a movie that makes a virtue out of its cramped setting. Fonda is one of the great movie stars who will be discovered afresh by new generations.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about confusing aspects of the legal system and the complex topic of prejudice. How timely are these issues now? Give some examples.

  • Explore the idea of being tried by a "jury of your peers," since it's easy for kids to assume that peers are people who are similar to the accused in nearly every way.

  • Why do you think this film is considered a classic? Does it stand the test of time?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 6, 1957
DVD release date:March 6, 2001
Cast:Henry Fonda, Joseph Sweeney, Robert Webber
Director:Sidney Lumet
Studio:MGM/UA
Genre:Drama
Character strengths:Communication, Integrity
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of 12 Angry Men was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bybooklover27 November 19, 2011

AMAZING MOVIE! Appropriate for all ages.

This movie is amazing though I would recommend for teens because younger children might get bored. I absolutely LOVE this movie! It is one of those movies you have to watch before you die!
Teen, 15 years old Written bymongofa June 16, 2010

Great movie that teens would like the most

Fantastic movie. I watched it in social studies class. It is amazing, but young kids would get bored since nearly the whole movie takes place in one room.
Teen, 13 years old Written byMovieGuy45 March 5, 2013

This classic court room drama centers around 12 jurors, all willing to vote guilty, except one skeptical juror.

The film is something a 6 or 7 year old would loose interest in, there are no explosions, sex, shootouts, or a car chase. This is well done movie, it is just fantastic.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence

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