Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Demolition Movie Poster Image
Uneven dramedy about mourning has mature content.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Suggests that there are many ways for people to mourn lost loved ones and that sometimes these means aren't necessarily "ordinary." Also, it's important to accept others and whatever form their mourning may take.

Positive Role Models & Representations

In general, the "good" characters are frequently judged by others, but they forgive and never judge.


A life-altering car crash kills a pivotal character. Characters are beaten to a pulp, with bloody wounds shown. Also a bloody wound from stepping on a nail. A kid shoots a gun. Blood stains on clothes. Character smashes up lots of furniture, appliances, and electronics with a sledgehammer. Toys are set on fire as a demonstration of war. Brief, verbal violent imagery.


Verbal references to having sex, oral sex, etc. The main character is shown naked, sitting on a toilet, from the side (nothing sensitive shown).


"F--k" is used several times, plus "s--t," "motherf----r," "t-ts," "ass," "goddamn," "prick," "balls," "retarded," "pothead," "dyke," "idiot."


M&Ms are initially part of the plot. Reference to eBay. Heineken beer shown. Apple iPhones shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A teen smokes cigarettes and drinks beer. A secondary character regularly smokes pot. Minor character is a pot dealer. Social drinking. References to Ecstasy and crack.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Demolition is a dramedy about a man (Jake Gyllenhaal) learning how to live again after his wife's death. In addition to a deadly car crash, it has guns and shooting (a teen fires the weapon), some brutal punching and pummeling (with bloody wounds resulting), and a scene in which furniture, appliances, walls, and windows are smashed with sledgehammers and other tools Language is strong, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. A teen smokes cigarettes and drinks beer, and an adult character is a regular pot smoker (her dealer is shown in one scene). There's additional social drinking and drug references as well. Characters make verbal references to sex, and there's a shot of the main character, naked, on the toilet (nothing sensitive is shown).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 13 years old Written bymmcapl March 20, 2017

Violent, with crude humor

There is a lot of swearing, but not much gore. It is okay for kids 5th grade and up.
Teen, 14 years old Written byFrankie7 January 4, 2017

A very deep comedy about a man who is trying to put his life back together with the help of a 15 year old boy

This was a very excellent and deep movie, although this movie is rated r it is mainly for language. I think that this movie gives great life lessons,, and the... Continue reading

What's the story?

Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal), who works for his father-in-law (Chris Cooper) in a financial firm, is devastated when his wife, Julia (Heather Lind), dies in a car accident. Distracted, Davis tries to buy a snack from the hospital vending machine, which steals his money; he ends up writing letters to the manufacturer's complaint department, telling his entire life story. To his surprise, Karen Moreno (Naomi Watts) -- a company representative who was moved by his letters -- calls him. Davis forms a strange friendship with her and with her confused son, Chris (Judah Lewis). He also becomes obsessed with taking things apart, from the household appliances to eventually the house itself. Can Davis get in touch with what's missing from his heart?

Is it any good?

Only about halfway successful, this quirky drama has fine performances and many moments of appealing sweetness, but it also suffers from ill-fitting tonal choices and heavy-handed metaphors. The story and themes are strikingly similar to those of the bittersweet dramedy About Schmidt, but in DEMOLITION, director Jean-Marc Vallee -- whose films (The Young Victoria, Dallas Buyers Club, Wild) are usually pitched at Oscar voters -- opts for hand-held cinematography with a grayish, overcast feel, nullifying most of the potential comedy or warmth.

Vallee ticks off the appropriate points on the main character arc's, but he fails to discover who Davis actually is. Where we should find sympathy for Davis' mourning, we're instead slightly alarmed by his behavior. The actors often rise above the material through sheer personality and goodwill, but then the use of metaphor kicks into high gear, and the movie leaves us with more message than feeling.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Demolition's violence. How does it impact the story? Does it take you out of the story, or bring you deeper into it? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Is Davis' expression of grief unusual? Is it OK to mourn differently from the "usual" ways? What other movies and TV shows can you think of that have handled the grieving process?

  • How do you feel about the teen character's swearing, smoking, and drinking? Is it glorified? Does he seem to enjoy it, or are there other reasons for the behavior?

  • Why do you think Karen smokes pot? What does she get out of it? What is she trying to fix?

  • What does the "demolition" metaphor mean in the story? Why does the character break things?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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