Basic Instinct

Movie review by
Hollis Griffin, Common Sense Media
Basic Instinct Movie Poster Image
Excessive whodunit is definitely not for kids.
  • R
  • 1992
  • 123 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Characters manipulate one another repeatedly, heavy drug use.


Graphic depictions of stabbings and gun violence. A rape.


Female nudity (including full frontal), male buttocks, several instances of intercourse, S&M, stereotypical lesbian characters.


Mostly sexual in nature.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main characters drink and use cocaine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film is about a murderer who kills people with an ice pick. There are many scenes involving full female nudity and male-female intercourse. The main characters drink heavily and use cocaine, and the male protagonist sexually assaults a main female character.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6, 9, and 9-year-old Written byLADrew June 3, 2021
Adult Written byAmericanQueen October 21, 2020

Nope, actually agree with this

This film is so inapropriate. Personally, I find it quite boring, but that's an unpopular opinion of mine. Unlike most csm ratings, this one doesn't e... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old December 26, 2019

Lots of racy material!

I'm 9 and this movie is more for someone twice my age. I had never seen those parts of a lady before -YOWZA! The story is kind of good, though.
Teen, 14 years old Written byvictoria.rondon February 10, 2021

i loved it!

i really liked. it brought darks sides of me, that i love.

What's the story?

This over-the-top murder mystery features a bisexual blonde bombshell that may or may not be murdering people with an ice pick. Sharon Stone plays author Catherine Trammell with exuberance, adding a layer of irony to the stereotypical femme fatale role. Her foil, San Francisco police detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas), is enchanted with her and starts drinking, smoking, and snorting cocaine as he copes with his feelings for a woman who is likely a murderess.

Is it any good?

A familiar scenario -- poor put-upon cop and his deadly, beautiful seducer -- is played to the hilt here. BASIC INSTINCT is nothing if not a hardboiled mystery movie taken through the roof with more sex, drugs, and bloody stabbings than are appropriate for younger viewers (or even many older viewers, for that matter).

It also suffers from an overuse of stereotypes. The film's treatment of female characters become (more) offensive when the detective manipulates, beats, and degrades Dr. Garner. This female character is devoted to him and risks her well-being to protect him from an overzealous police commission, even as Nick humiliates her at work and in the bedroom. Catherine Trammell's lesbian relationship is mostly ignored in favor of depicting her bedroom romps with the detective. Nevertheless, it's hard to overlook the film's use of the murderous lesbian stereotype because Catherine and her girlfriend are murder suspects throughout. The twisty-turny plot is enough to make this a compelling enough movie, yet a reliance on sex and violence clutters it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the choices that Detective Curran makes in the film. How might his drinking and drug use have influenced his decision-making? Families might also discuss Detective Curran's relationship with Dr. Garner. Did he treat her fairly? Was she right to risk her job for him? Parents could also talk about the depiction of Catherine Trammell. Do you think she "did it"? Do you think she cared about the detective or was just manipulating him?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

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