Parents' Guide to

Barney's Version

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Mature dramedy is well acted but may not interest teens.

Movie R 2011 132 minutes
Barney's Version Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 16+

Movie with cursing may not be appropiate for kids under 16.

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much swearing
age 17+


This title has:

Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (4):
Kids say: Not yet rated

It's an uneven film, but the terrific cast makes it well worth watching. Mordecai Richler's 1997 novel Barney's Version -- which BARNEY'S VERSION is based on -- plays with the idea of the "unreliable narrator." Barney tells his story after the onset of Alzheimer's disease, and then his notes are re-edited by his son, so it's hard to know what's 100% accurate. It's an interesting approach, so it's unfortunate that the movie doesn't embrace it, instead using the Alzheimer's mostly as a sympathy-getting plot device.

While some of the characters are well-drawn and others are thin, the cast as a whole is game, and the actors -- notably Giamatti, Hoffman, and Driver -- shine in their roles. (Giamatti's make-up is also especially good, and he's believable at every age.) While the movie has some strong laughs, especially at the beginning, director Richard J. Lewis has a little trouble balancing the film's inherent comedy and drama. He also lets the movie run too long, which undermines the goodwill the characters have drummed up.

Movie Details

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