Parents' Guide to

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Suspenseful, thoughtful alien-encounter classic.

Movie PG 1977 132 minutes
Close Encounters of the Third Kind Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 19 parent reviews

age 12+

Great, but kinda scary

Awesome film—beautifully written and acted—but between the spooky alien encounters early on in the film (which are filmed and scored not unlike a horror movie) and the dad losing it toward the end (sobbing fully dressed in the shower, loudly fighting with his wife in front of the kids, shoveling dirt into his kitchen window), this was a lot to handle even for my 11-year-old. SPOILER ALERT: The end, with his kissing Barry’s mom and disappearing into an alien spaceship, leaving his family behind for who knows how long, didn’t really help either. Definitely worth seeing, and lots to talk about in the film, but I wouldn’t rush showing this one to pre-teens.
2 people found this helpful.
age 13+

Great film- classic

My 9 year old isn't afraid of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park but the extraterrestrials and idea of alien life in this film scared him. He wasn't ready for it. My 13 year old enjoyed it. Nice to see a film with a positive portrayal of alien life along with no violence.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (19):
Kids say (26):

This is a thrilling adventure story and a brilliant example of the art and craft of moviemaking. The story unfolds with extraordinary power, involving viewers as much in Roy's inexplicable compulsion as in Jillian's search for her son. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is so different from many other alien movies -- it posits the idea not just that "something" is out there, but that it's something wonderful. Watch how director Steven Spielberg lets viewers know that the aliens are friendly.

There's something very believable and compelling about the way that the aliens use music to communicate and to teach the people on earth. Spielberg creates a sense of wonder not just in Jillian's son Barry (Cary Guffey) but in the adult characters and in the viewers, making them children again, with the aliens as the "adults," who -- reassuringly -- look and behave like gentle children, giving us a sense of comfort.

Movie Details

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