Parents' Guide to

A Better Life

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Eye-opening social drama about immigration and family.

Movie PG-13 2011 98 minutes
A Better Life 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 8+

Educational movie for kids and teens.

Kids should watch it to have a real idea about the life for immigrants in USA. The actor Demián Bichir is amazing, one of the best Mexican actors, my kids loved the movie, we have to educate our kids so they can be aware of others life.
age 15+

A Better Movie

While I liked this movie, there was so much bad language that i wasn't as impressed as I would have otherwise been. Good message of not giving up though.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (1 ):

When a movie is able to bring to life a politically loaded issue without being suffused with cliches and rhetoric, it's a miracle. That's exactly what A BETTER LIFE accomplishes; it's a nuanced, sensitive, moving examination of the illegal immigrant experience in modern America. It's a well-crafted movie -- taut when called for, pensive when necessary. It zigzags fluidly between social commentary and family drama, never tipping each side too heavily so as to achieve a delicate balance.

And at its core are two great actors, Bichir and Julian, who manage to make the script come to life with authenticity and empathy. Luis' struggles as a teenager trying to live boldly yet conscientiously could have used some fine-tuning -- some sections seem like shorthand -- but this quibble won't weaken a strong film deserving of an audience.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: June 24, 2011
  • On DVD or streaming: October 18, 2011
  • Cast: Demian Bichir , Jose Julian
  • Director: Chris Weitz
  • Inclusion Information: Latino actors, Middle Eastern/North African actors
  • Studio: Summit Entertainment
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 98 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: some violence, language and brief drug use
  • Last updated: July 7, 2023

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate