American Hustle Movie Poster Image

American Hustle

Mesmerizing mature drama with just a bit of sex, violence.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 138 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Even among thieves and con artists, loyalty is a must. Also, love can sometimes be the only way out of a really big mess.

Positive role models

Irving isn't a pillar of decency by any stretch of the imagination, but he does have standards and approaches his line of work with zeal and respect. Also, he truly loves his step-son and makes sacrifices for him. Sydney is lost, sometimes sad, but bold and hardworking, and truly loves Irving, even though he's married to someone else. Sydney is a force to be reckoned with, mistress of her fate. She and Irving have an equal relationship.


This is not a violence-packed movie, but there are a few key moments of brutality. A man shoots someone at point blank (it's a brief but visceral scene). A woman finds herself hitting a man hard with a picture frame after he refuses to stop making advances toward her. A man beats a co-worker with a phone; again, it's brief, but long enough for us to get a sense of the moment's brutality.


A woman's wardrobe consists almost entirely of plunging necklines that show off her cleavage. A man and a woman go into a bathroom stall, and he's shown lifting up her skirt and making out with her while they discuss whether to have sex or not. Another couple is shown kissing passionately, and it's suggested that they sleep together, though we don't see any explicit sexual activity.


Swear words galore, including "ass," "s--t," "son-of-a-bitch," bulls--t," and "motherf--ker."


Some old-school brands, including Pimm's, Chase, Skippy, Cheez Whiz, and New York's Plaza Hotel.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Brief scenes showing adults snorting coke and smoking weed. Lots of social drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that American Hustle is an intoxicating, brilliant -- but mature -- drama that will leave viewers breathless with its audacity and streak of humor. There's not a ton of violence or sexual activity, but the themes are intense and adult (reinvention, one-upsmanship, overarching ambition infidelity, an unhappy marriage). The movie also includes brief scenes of drug use and loads of swearing including multiple instances of "f--k." 

What's the story?

Inspired by the real-life story of a con artist who is compelled by the FBI to help snag bigger fish in a criminal pond, director David O. Russell's AMERICAN HUSTLE finds Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), a small-time hustler and dry cleaning store owner, taking his game to another level when he meets, teams up with, and falls for Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), a formidably smart stripper who helps to refine their scams. But when an ambitious FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) ensnares them, the only way out for Irving and Sydney is to set up a bigger con that would lead to a more valuable prize: a well-meaning but corrupt politician (Jeremy Renner) and a mob boss (Robert De Niro). Complicating matters is Irving's interesting, charming, but bizarrely eccentric wife (Jennifer Lawrence), whom Irving cares for but doesn't want to live with anymore. His step-son is the main reason he's sticking around. But if he and Sydney don't reel in the bigger marks, they're done.

Is it any good?


American Hustle immerses you in its pounding intensity from the very beginning, and it only accelerates from there. The moment we see Christian Bale's paunchy swindler create his intricate comb-over, we know we're in Wonderland territory. Nothing will be as it seems. And what comes next is a joy of non-linear storytelling, conjuring a world that still seems familiar despite being set decades ago. It's bold and operatic and unafraid. The ensemble is fantastic, led by Bale who leaves any vanity at the door to churn out a performance filled with layers. He's criminal and loving and admirable, even in the worst circumstances. Adams is stunning -- there's no other character like her Sydney. You root for them both, as well as Irving's nutty wife, and the politician, Mayor Carmine Pollito, who gets caught in the dragnet.

Just when you think the movie can't get any better, American Hustle pulls another brilliant sleight of hand, sending the plot careening in a new mind-bending direction. You'll find yourself holding your breath often, and not because the characters are pulling some feat-of-physicality stunt. The subjects are grand and complicated, and the story has the makings of a classic heist film. But, at the heart of it all -- and this is what makes it so memorable and insightful -- is a quest for love and partnership.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes this movie unique. Have you seen other movies with similar styles or themes? What sets this one apart? What do you know about how the director works?

  • What makes a movie better for mature viewers -- sexual or violent content or adult-oriented themes? What kinds of movies should teens not see?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 13, 2013
DVD/Streaming release date:March 18, 2014
Cast:Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence
Director:David O. Russell
Studio:Columbia Pictures
Run time:138 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written byLookingTo December 15, 2013

Some Language

It's really just the language, with some minor sexuality, but otherwise, I think this is a mild R-rating. If your child is mature enough to recognize the actors involved and understands that he or she should not speak like they do, they should be fine.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byImjustsaying December 27, 2013

Good movie, kind of talky and slow at times, great cast to watch and music is the best!!!!

Ok, good movie, a bit slow and talky but kind of fun to watch Amy, Jennifer, Christian and Bradley. A lot of sexy shots of Amy with no bra in clothes, a sex scene in a toliet stall but it gets cut once it gets heated, a lot of cussing/language , very adult content. I would say a 16 could view this with no problem. It's a adult movie but not X rated at all.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of a 6, 13, and 15 year old Written byCRickards December 17, 2013

An okay movie

It's a nice throwback but if you don't like these kinds of movies this one's no different. I'd let my oldest watch it.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing