Death of a Salesman

Movie review by
Randy White, Common Sense Media
Death of a Salesman Movie Poster Image
A classic American tragedy.
  • PG
  • 1985
  • 150 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Willy treats his wife terribly, but she continues to revere him. It also depicts the themes of suicide, adultery, career failure, kleptomania, and family tensions

Positive Role Models & Representations

Wiley is a confused, lost man who watches his life (and consequently the American dream) crumble around him.


The two sons talk about their "first time" and other dalliances; we see the two sons heading out for an evening with prostitutes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking, smoking, philandering.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film adaptation of the award-winning play depicts a man's life falling apart and is terribly sad. It also depicts the themes of suicide, adultery, career failure, kleptomania, and family tensions. Younger children and some teens may have a hard time identifying with and sympathizing with Willy Loman.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTeacher in Michigan November 18, 2010
This is an amazing and powerful rendering of one of the greatest 20th century American plays. I am shocked at the shallow review that mentions the "misgui... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byolympicmascots July 25, 2017

Death of A Salesman Movie Review

This movie is really good. Some parts are mixed up and the cursing is toned down. There is suicide references and viewers do not see a car crash. There is adult... Continue reading

What's the story?

Willy Loman (Dustin Hoffman) is getting old and he's no longer able to keep up his New England sales route. But with the return of prodigal son Biff (John Malkovich), Loman's beloved boys are together again. As Biff struggles to work out his tangled relationship with his dad, Willy relives crucial moments from that past that reveal his formative influences, the great aspirations he has for himself and his sons, and his many personal failures. Things take a turn for the worse when Biff fails at a business interview and Willie is fired from his job. In one flashback, Biff is crushed when he discovers his father's philandering. Eventually, he confronts his father over the lies the family has lived with through the years.


Is it any good?

Dustin Hoffman leads an accomplished cast in this faithful rendering of Arthur Miller's play about a mediocre man whose life is unraveling around him. Shot on studio sets, the production looks stark and some may find it hard to follow, but the fine performances make it captivating. Hoffman gives a quiet but mesmerizing performance, never succumbing to the easy choice of making Willy just angry or confused. Instead, he works hard to restore dignity to the character. Hoffman's scenes with the equally brilliant John Malkovich are the strongest feature of the movie.


Teens and adults will become lost in this American tragedy. However, Loman is a remnant of another age, and it may take some effort for kids to identify with him. Still, this is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the 1984 Broadway version, and teens who have any interest in theater -- or need to read the play for school -- will greatly enjoy it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the hopes and dreams they have and how they would cope if they didn't achieve them all.

  • How does Willy cope with regret? What role does his family play in supporting him?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thoughtful films

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate