Parents' Guide to

Bowling for Columbine

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Must-see gun violence documentary is brutal.

Movie R 2002 120 minutes
Bowling for Columbine Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 15+

let's go Bowl

A look back at the Columbine shooting 20 years ago. Still actual 20 years later.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
age 16+

incomplete but still informative

I watched this movie looking for answers about what triggered this particular mass shooting. I didn't get an answer there like I was hoping to, but I did get some answers to the problem of gun violence in general. Michael Moore is not unbiased, as he is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. To see a member of the NRA strongly favor stricter gun laws is commendable all by itself. Moore obviously sees the gun issue from both sides. Watching this movie may or may not give you all the answers you're looking for, but it will give you some. This movie is depressing but needed.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6):
Kids say (18):

Any documentary about gun violence in America in which the single most intelligent and insightful comment is made by a guy named after a dead beauty queen and a serial killer is worth a look. This documentary is more mosaic than polemic and mordantly funny, though it does veer a bit over the top when Moore tries to link television producer Dick Clark to the murder of a six-year-old by a six-year-old, because the boy who killed his classmate had a mother who worked at one of Clark's restaurants in a welfare-to-work program. And his relentless questioning of a clearly memory-impaired Charlton Heston, leaving a photo of the murdered girl in Heston's home after Heston stalks out of the interview, has the unintended result of making Heston seem more sympathetic.

But Moore's movie confronts complex questions fearlessly, even as it acknowledges that it does not have the answers. Why do our fellow North Americans in Canada, who have proportionately the same number of guns, shoot each other only one-tenth as often? Why are Americans fearful even out of proportion to the amount of violence we subject ourselves to?

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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

See how we rate