Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Argo Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Taut political thriller based on real-life escape from Iran.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 120 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 54 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The CIA goes to extreme lengths -- and one agent risks his life -- to save six people who need to get out of Iran before they're captured by revolutionaries. It's a patriotic story, based on a real mission, that highlights the agency's sense of duty during very difficult times.

Positive Role Models & Representations

CIA operative Tony Mendez has one firm rule: Never leave anyone behind. He goes to extraordinary lengths to rescue six people before they're captured. The entire movie is built around a huge lie, but it's clear that the deception is both justified and necessary, and Mendez puts his own life on the line to pull it off.


An unruly mob overruns the U.S. embassy, waving guns and threatening people. Soldiers fire tear gas into a crowd. People are manhandled and shoved around. Later, militants threaten to shoot hostages, even setting up a firing squad. Other scenes show victims of the violence in Iran, including death by point-blank gunfire and hanging. Several scenes include tense stand-offs between soldiers and people trying to hide their identities, and though there's not much violence, the anxiety is palpable. Lots of guns.


Some scantily clad actresses in scenes involving sci-fi movie shoots. A married couple hugs.


Frequent swearing includes "f--k" (and many variations thereof, including a running joke involving the movie's title and word "f--k"), "s--t," "prick," "a--hole," "d--k," "hell," "goddamn," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), and more.


One character drinks Miller beer and eats at McDonald's. A wealthy movie executive drives a Rolls Royce.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several scenes show people drinking wine and cocktails at meals. A man drinks liquor alone in a hotel room, straight from the bottle, after getting bad news; it's also implied that he drinks wine "for courage" in another tense situation. Pretty frequent smoking (accurate for the era).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Argo is based on the true story of a daring covert rescue mission, carried out by CIA operative Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck, who also directs), during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. A few scenes feature unruly mobs and dead bodies, and there are some extremely tense sequences during the escape, but there's not much actual on-screen violence. Other issues include swearing (there's quite a bit, including "f--k" and "s--t") and several scenes that show people smoking and drinking during social occasions.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byChad Peterson December 21, 2018
Great morals, but a lot of swearing.
Adult Written byNicole G. December 20, 2016

Excellent film, very thrilling!!!!

Despite this movie having an R rating, it isn't that bad at all. Yes, there is cursing, but children here cursing every day. The only thing is that the fil... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byOkapi722 April 14, 2020


The movie is very good. I first saw it at age 12, and it was not bad. It may have been a little awkward to watch around my parents, but nothing too inappropriat... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byryanabdn February 25, 2020

Great film for teens and adults

A truly amazing film which leaves viewers on the edges of their seats. I would say that this is for people 13+ because there is an insane amount of swearing, bu... Continue reading

What's the story?

When Iranian militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, taking 52 Americans hostage, six manage to escape, taking refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador. There they stay, safe but trapped, until CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck, who also directs) concocts an audacious rescue plan. First, he heads to Hollywood, where he recruits two movie-industry veterans (Alan Arkin and John Goodman) to help set up a fake film production. Then he hops on a plane to Iran, in the guise of a Canadian producer scouting desert locations for a sci-fi flick called ARGO. The mission -- "the best bad idea we've got," as one official describes it -- is to fly the entire group out on a commercial flight by convincing the Iranian military that they're all part of the film crew.

Is it any good?

Affleck is well on his way to becoming a masterful director; with a steady hand and a sure vision, he guides Argo like a conductor leading a virtuoso orchestra. His actors are sublime; the casting, save for one notable exception (see below), genius. (Arkin reminds us what acting should be.) And the pacing is exquisite, recalling such classics as Dog Day Afternoon and The Marathon Man.

Affleck's decisions, from imbuing Argo with a circa-1970s patina to splicing real news footage in between re-created scenes, are flawless ... except for one glaring error: casting himself. He's solid here, but he's not transcendent. And that's not OK, not in a film of this caliber. Argo needs an actor who reverberates without saying a single word. A secondary storyline about Mendez' family life is a sweet detour, but a distraction, too. Nonetheless, Argo is a thriller that nearly stands up to the best of them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fact that the whole Argo mission is built around a huge deception. Why is it OK to lie in this situation? Are there other times that it's OK?

  • Some Canadians are apparently miffed that their participation in the rescue has been minimized in the film. When it comes to portraying real-life events, should Hollywood hew to the historic accounts? Or does entertainment trump accuracy?

  • Are the characters role models? What about the "bad guys"? How are they portrayed? How might this story play out differently if it had been made in another country?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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