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Parents' Guide to

20th Century Women

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Unique, powerful, mature look at '70s mother and son.

Movie R 2016 118 minutes
20th Century Women Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 17+

Good movie

I strongly recommend watching "20th Century Women", Mills' script and casting are so 'real' that we sense we know the characters. It takes place in Santa Barbara in 1979. Most part of the movie is narrated by Jamie, a 15-year-old nice feminist guy who tries to show us how special his 55-year-old mother, Dorothea, who "comes from the Depression" is, but sometimes the other characters get the chance to narrating, introducing themselves, telling us who they are and where are they going to, tissuing past present and future. The cultural changes are some of the struggles Dorothea must face throughout the movie. Not only does she try to understand this new era of skateboarding and punk music, listening to people beyond the surface but also hanging out with her two tenants: Abbie - the marvelous GRETA GERWIG, and a mechanic who is tolerant and helpful. Abbie is a hardcore feminist photographer recovering from cervical cancer, in some of the funniest and most political scenes in the movie, she gives Jamie some feminist books and lessons, about the importance of "clitoral stimulation" and not be frightened with women periods. Jamie's best friend from childhood, a depressed girl named Julie, also haver her space in the movie. As she is so unhappy at home, carry on crawling through Jamie's window at night to sleep, without sex. Jamie is in love with her, but as she does not wanna have sex with him, he respects her decision, and tries to be a good guy and just be there for her and his mother and his friend Abbie. It's definitely worth watching!

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much consumerism
age 14+


If your child is mature then this is probably an okay film. It’s 2017 and i suspect that every 14 year old knows about sex and certain drugs so the topics won’t be new to them. This movie focuses on many different characters which I personally loved because all of them had something different about them. A girl with cancer who loves to party. A mother who loves her son. A young girl who is way too wise for those around her. All teens think about sex therefore this movie isn’t morally wrong. (The teens don’t do anything, by the way.) However, there is a scene with two adults which may cause discomfort because of the age gap (the woman being in her late 20’s and the man in his late/early 40’s) or because there was dirty-but-not-so-dirty talk. I don’t know.

This title has:

Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (3 ):

This indie dramedy isn't your average movie -- which is another way of saying it's fantastic. An original story executed by writer/director Mike Mills in a singularly specific and refreshingly offbeat way, 20th Century Women requires viewers to surrender to its rhythms -- and its whims. The movie's biggest strength is its characters, who are, to a person, distinct and interesting, and therefore engaging to watch. The story also provides heartbreaking insight into what binds mothers and their sons -- and what drives them apart.

The film will no doubt have its detractors because it can be frustrating how long it takes to connect the dots (and it doesn't even connect all of them). But you won't likely finish it without feeling changed somehow for having watched it and having spent time with Dorothea, one of the more interesting women to grace the screen in years.

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