21 Grams Movie Poster Image

21 Grams



Thought-provoking film not for tweens/young teens.
  • Review Date: April 27, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 125 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Graphic violence, including shooting. Tragic deaths and brutal violence with gory wounds.


Very explicit sexual references and situations, nudity and a brief glimpse of a porno film.


There is very strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink, smoke, and use drugs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film includes tragic deaths and brutal violence with gory wounds. There are explicit sexual references and situations, including nudity and a brief glimpse of a porno film. Characters drink, smoke, and use drugs. A character attempts suicide. There is very strong language.

What's the story?

In 21 GRAMS, a terrible collision shatters more than the lives of three people. It shatters the very narrative of the story itself. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu conveys the fractured disorientation of the three main characters with clusters of brief scenes that act as a mosaic, gradually revealing what happened in that devastating moment and how it affected the events and emotions that followed, even the impact on the very identities of the people involved. Paul (Sean Penn) is dying. His heart is failing. His wife wants to find a way to have his child. Jack (Benicio Del Toro) is struggling. He has come out of prison with a fierce new religious faith that has his wife and children a little uneasy. Christina (Naomi Watts) is happy. She has overcome a substance abuse problem and is living happily with her husband and daughters. Then a corner is turned. A driver -- maybe in too much of a hurry to get to a birthday party, maybe having had a drink -- hits three pedestrians. Lives are lost. Another life is restored. Another is devastated. Is there a way to go on?

Is it any good?


Penn gives one of the most sensitive performances of his career. He usually plays characters who are not as smart as he is, but here he is completely convincing as a math professor, and he shows us an extraordinary range of subtle and complex emotions. Watts and Del Toro are also outstanding. Inarritu uses a hand-held camera and directs with a simple, intimate, very pure feeling similar in style to the Dogma 95 movies.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why Inarritu chose to tell the story this way. How would its impact have been different if told in a more conventional structure?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 20, 2003
DVD release date:March 15, 2004
Cast:Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts, Sean Penn
Director:Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Studio:Focus Features
Run time:125 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, sexuality, some violence and drug use.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byMovieLover4Lyfe May 26, 2010
This seems like a thought provoking movie, and I think I will be viewing it soon!
Adult Written byjumpinbini April 9, 2008
This movie encompasses almost every tragic situation that could ever happen in life. This film is very intense, and depressing. Three lives come together in a tragic turn of events and is a rollercoaster of heartbreak. If you don't want to be depressed for the rest of the day, do not see this film, it is not for the lighthearted.
Teen, 15 years old Written bymadlion924 July 25, 2009

Wish I Hadn't Seen It

Extreme amounts of sexual nudity Strong language throughout Somewhat sacrilege
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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