Across the Universe



Beatles musical hits strong notes amid sex, drugs.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: February 4, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 133 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters plot ways to dodge the draft, sneak into the country illegally, and question the government (though all for reasons they deem noble -- i.e. to stop the Vietnam War). There's kindness between Lucy and Jude, even when they're at odds, and Jude and Max form a very strong and loyal friendship.


Soldiers shoot at others during the Vietnam War; cops shoot at looters and beat protesters (one main character is bloodied); anti-war extremists build bombs; a quarrel between two men turns physical.


Artistic scenes show two lovers floating in water, naked and kissing; they're also shown in bed (under the covers), waking up together, and locked in passionate embraces a handful of times (deep French kissing). Two scenes show bare breasts, and men's backsides are visible as well. Passing references to promiscuity.


Runs the gamut from "bastard" to "s--t" and "f--k."


The film is inspired by Beatles music. Some labels of alcoholic beverages get screen time.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters smoke pot and use psychedelic drugs. They also drink quite a bit, from beer to hard liquor.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although there's much to like about this Beatles-inspired musical -- it's visionary, it introduces young audiences to iconic songs, and it addresses important social issues -- some of the content is iffy for teens. Characters drink and take drugs without any negative consequences, and there are a few nude scenes (though they're artfully staged and echo the deep love between main characters Lucy and Jude). Still, teens are likely to relate to the film's powerful messages about the importance of friendships and the need to question authority when lives are at stake.

What's the story?

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE taps into the Beatles' impressive, iconic catalog to tell the story of young love during the turbulent 1960s and 1970s. Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood) and Jude (Jim Sturgess) are worlds apart, literally, as the movie begins. She's a high school senior cloistered in an affluent American suburb; he's the boy from Liverpool gifted with a talent for the visual arts but toiling in a factory. Determined to make something, anything, of himself, he relocates to America; befriends Lucy's brother, Max (Joe Anderson); and promptly falls in love. The realization hits Jude in a bowling alley, and what follows is a gleeful rendition of "I've Just Seen a Face."

Is it any good?


Across the Universe is an audacious feat for which director Julie Taymor deserves much praise, but the movie falls short. While Taymor's fantastical concepts are admirable, musicals -- even fevered ones like Moulin Rouge -- tend to work better when the singing is organic and the setting naturalistic (as naturalistic as a musical can be, anyway), with characters launching into the perfect song to evoke emotions they need to express. From that perspective, Across the Universe succeeds. But when the film segues into nonsensical bits -- Eddie Izzard's "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," for instance -- it loses its way. Plus, some of the numbers are so stylized that they're best left to the Broadway stage.

An insubstantial script also hobbles the film; despite the grave subject matters it addresses -- war, art, love -- and the fact that characters dabble in sex and drugs, Across the Universe remains lightweight. It's painted in strokes that, albeit stunning, are too broad. By the time the credits roll, it feels less powerful than when it began, and that's a shame. It could have been a contender; as it stands, it's a memorable, wonderful confection with too much unrealized potential.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the Beatles' music defined a generation. Are the songs as relevant today as when they first became famous? What about their music makes it so universal? Families can also discuss the counter-culture movement of the 1960s and '70s. Are young people as involved with politics today as they were then? Or does that kind of passion only happen in movies anymore? Do you think that era tends to get idealized today? Why or why not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 21, 2007
DVD release date:February 4, 2008
Cast:Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson
Director:Julie Taymor
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:133 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some drug content, nudity, sexuality, violence and language.

This review of Across the Universe was written by

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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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What parents and kids say

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Educator Written bylarae14 April 3, 2009

Great Music + Nudity = A "Must NOT Watch, Just Buy the Soundtrack"

Great music! But I could go without the nudity. I thought the main characters are scoundrels. I know, it's a timepiece...blah blah blah. If I'd lived in that time I would have thought people that behaved this way were scoundrels too. In fact, I know people who behave this way today and I think they act like irresponsible scoundrels too.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byiluvKH April 9, 2008

Don't waste any time

People think this movie i great. I don't. It had pretty shots and interesting visuals but it might as well been released as a series of music videos. I've seen this story, how many times? Also it should have been rated R. There is frontal nudity. Artistically done? Give me a break. The girl rolls over in bed and shows everything. A girl in body paint shows everyting. Two people make out naked in the water. I applaud the music. The movie was horrible. Just watch three of the scenes.
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

This is one of my top movies!

This is one of my favorite movies ever. Besides having great music and choreography, this movie had an interesting and deep storyline. It isn't just fluff. Now on to the "inappropriate" material involved in this film. 1. There is nudity. It might make some younger kids go "yuck," but I say, what is wrong with the human body? 2. The characters do drugs, drink, etc. However, I belive this is okay if your kids know that these things are bad. 3. There are a couple scenes of fighting. This is the part where you should know your kid. Will they not be bothered by this, or will they have nightmares? I think this is a great movie, but only a certain age group will enjoy it. Either you get it or you don't. Know your kid, or you might be answering questions the whole 133 minutes.


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