Being There

Movie review by
Kelly Kessler, Common Sense Media
Being There Movie Poster Image
Amazingly poignant performance by Peter Sellers.
  • PG
  • 1979
  • 130 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

A joke about genital size, sexual forwardness (usually based on misunderstandings), unseen (but heard) masturbation.


Brief swearing by street thugs.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A small amount of social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film is emotionally taxing and touching. There is some brief profanity. In one off-screen moment that is meant to be comedic, a woman masturbates with the hopes of seducing a man who is clearly not interested.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjmo97 October 21, 2016

Incredible performances, but not for younger teens

Peter Sellers was absolutely tearing me apart when seeing this movie. He plays a gardener who gains fame because of his supposed "words of wisdom". It... Continue reading
Adult Written byshonb May 27, 2015
Teen, 15 years old Written bySgt.Pepper March 22, 2011
It's really quite a good movie! If you're young, and have heard bad language before, it's not an issue. The only scene that is a little iffy,... Continue reading

What's the story?

BEING THERE centers on Mr. Chance, who has spent his life working as a rich man's gardener. Though illiterate, a bit slow, and obsessed with television, he possesses a unique passion for plants. Upon the death of his employer, a confused Chance is cast out into the big world. Having never cooked, ridden in a car, or visited a doctor by himself, he sees a minor automobile accident as a lucky break as the woman involved in the accident, Eve Rand (Shirley MacLaine), whisks him back to the house of her rich and ailing husband (Melvyn Douglas). The Rands misinterpret the oddity of Chance -- misidentified as an insightful Chauncey Gardiner -- as profound insight. What starts as a misunderstanding evolves into a national phenomenon. Mortality, sex, and the presidency find new meaning when seen through the nearsighted eye of the mysterious stranger.

Is it any good?

Although the film has been touted as a classic, some people may find it too esoteric. The majority of the main characters are overall good people, but the film's premise emerges from a poignant/painful misunderstanding. Parents, not kids, will be drawn to this film due to its grown-up humor.

Sellers spent years trying to bring the story of the odd-duck gardener to the big screen, but not until the Pink Panther sequels renewed his bankability would a major studio agree to front the film. The result was a critically acclaimed and poignant piece. Sellers earned many nominations for his role and took home the Golden Globe. Director Hal Ashby won the coveted Golden Palm from the Cannes Film Festival, while Melvyn Douglas earned the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the ailing Benjamin Rand.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about issues regarding the media. What part does the media play in the creation of Chauncey Gardiner? Is Chance's depiction as a simpleton politically correct or ideologically problematic? In addition, parents may want to discuss this film in the context of contemporary Hollywood. How does its rather small and understated narrative compare to films today? Can they think of anything similar?

Movie details

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