An Inconvenient Truth



Moving, earnest documentary on global warming.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: November 20, 2006
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Gore's argument -- that global warming is a result of past and current energy abuses -- is not believed by everyone.


Images of environmental devastation, including post-Katrina footage (bodies floating); heat-wave effects (mostly numbers of people who died in France, 2003); melting polar ice caps (a polar bear looks sad as it tries to find ice on which to rest, but must keep swimming); an animated frog almost boils in a beaker; Gore discusses shooting his rifle as a boy; a flashback sequence shows Gore worried about his six-year-old son, who almost died in a car accident.

Not applicable

One use of "damn."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Joke about an old classmate now being a "drug addict" (appears to be facetious); archival footage includes images of cigarettes being manufactured and ads where doctors endorse cigarettes; Gore discusses his family's roots in the tobacco industry (as farmers), his sister's smoking and her consequent death from lung cancer.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film introduces complicated scientific, political, and social issues (most prominently, the arguments surrounding global warming and environmental pollution), which will likely go over the heads of the youngest kids. While Al Gore explains his points with colorful graphics (cartoons, graphs, "nature" footage), the statistics and argument strategies may be boring for younger viewers, too. The movie includes images of the aftermath of Katrina, as well as references to other disasters (a 2003 European heat wave that left 35,000 dead). Animated sequences show mild violence (ozone-attacking sunbeams, a frog almost boiling, a weary polar bear unable to find solid ice on which to rest). It also includes sections on the death of Gore's sister from lung cancer (photos of her as he talks about missing her and the damage done by cigarette smoking) and on Gore's young son's near death in a car accident (viewers see no specifics, mostly haunting, empty hospital corridors and Gore looking sad).

What's the story?

Plainspoken and passionate, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH tracks Al Gore's efforts to convince people that global warming is an immediate, dire, and still fixable problem. Well-paced and galvanizing, the movie suggests he's finally found his calling, beyond political backrooms and official chambers, in the bright light of a cause that moves him. Gore is alternately grave, impressive, and even funny as he makes clear the stakes he sees in changing human consuming habits. After loing a presidential contest, Gore is more determined than ever to "get [his] message across."He's packaged that message into a slide show that, he says, he's performed more than 1000 times over the years. The movie argues that global warming is a man-made phenomenon, backing that claim with charts and graphs and statistics, as well as before and after shots of glaciers, once snowy mountains, and once full lakes. Whatever you believe about the causes of global warming, the film insists that you acknowledge its existence.

Is it any good?


The movie occasionally leans too hard on sentimental devices, as when Gore looks repeatedly out windows while his voiceover narrates his concerns over a receding natural world. A more awkward section has Gore explaining his decision to turn his energies to the environment, because, he says, his young son was nearly killed in a car accident; while the trauma and effects are surely moving, the black and white imagery and sad music feel more exploitative than explanatory.

Still, this documentary makes you think, especially about how you might have effects not only on your local environment -- recycling, reducing oil and electric consumption -- but also how you might become involved in more expansive projects, and consider yourself part of a broader, even worldwide community. That Al Gore provokes such thinking with what amounts to a lecture is no small feat.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the debate over global warming, and whether it results from human excesses or inevitable natural changes. They might discuss the film's presentation of conflicts between economic and environmental needs, the U.S. role in pollution and global warming, and accusations by some politicians (shown briefly in the film) that global warming is a hoax.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 23, 2006
DVD release date:November 21, 2006
Cast:Al Gore, Billy West
Director:Davis Guggenheim
Studio:Paramount Vantage
Topics:Science and nature
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:for mild thematic elements

This review of An Inconvenient Truth was written by

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


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 10 years old December 31, 2008

to josh 1422

global warming is made by humans you idiot! One of the most frightening movies I have ever seen. P.S josh1422 is 2 reviews below me.
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008
Parent Written byjdtangney April 9, 2008

Crucial message must get out

It might be hard for a younger kid to sit through this. But the message must get out. My 4th grader saw the first half of this movie at school. While the subtlety of Gore's nostalgia for and rejection of his tobacco farming upbringing may be tough to fathom for younger kids, it's a great opportunity to talk about love of family and social responsibility and how the two play together - or against each other. As for the argument that not everyone believes that global warming is the result of human activity, remember that not everyone believes that the world is round.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Special Needs Guide