Emma

  • Review Date: June 24, 2003
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 1996
  • Running Time: 120 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Perfect for warmhearted family entertainment.
  • Review Date: June 24, 2003
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 1996
  • Running Time: 120 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Love is not always something that can be planned out, and Emma's efforts to steer people together don't often end up as planned. Instead, love seems to sneak up on people without her aid. Even upon Emma, to her great surprise.

 

Positive role models

Emma is good-natured and has a kind heart, but is not always sensitive to others. Her main goal seems to be to find suitable partners for the eligible men and women in her social circle, which means she spends a good deal of time gossiping about other people and trying (not always successfully) to interpret how they feel. She often tries to pair off people who have eyes for others, and is reluctant to admit her pairing is less than ideal. Most important, she seems unable to realize that there are people who might be interested in her.

Violence

Two genteel ladies are roughed up by a band of ruffians, until a gentleman comes to their aid.

Sex

No sex, but many, many discussions about matchmaking, and with whom various people would be compatible.

Language

No swearing. A key point of the film is that people rarely say what they really think, often leading to misunderstandings. People can also make very cutting remarks, cleverly disguised by wit, but barbed nonetheless.

Consumerism

No modern consumer references, but much of the film is focused on planning, gossiping, and debating the merits of various relationships, based partly on love, and also on class distinctions, status, and wealth.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some social drinking. A gentleman's ardent, but unappreciated, declaration of love is blamed on an overindulgence in wine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this sweet-natured period film may not have much appeal to tweens and younger. Teens, especially those enamored of Jane Austen's novels, on which this is based, might find it enormously appealing. It revolves around manners, society, and of course romance. There's much discussion about matchmaking but no onscreen canoodling. The only language issue is that some of the people circle around what they're trying to say without actually saying it, which may be confusing. Expect some social drinking; one character blames a social gaffe on having had too much wine.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In this adaptation of Jane Austen's novel, young Emma Woodhouse (Gwyneth Paltrow) thinks she knows everything about love and deems herself matchmaker to her friends. She fixes up Harriet (Toni Collette) with Reverend Elton (Alan Cumming) and pairs her governess with Mr. Weston (James Cosmo). But Emma learns that she isn't as successful in the ways of love as she'd believed, especially when it comes to handsome Mr. Knightly (Jeremy Northam).

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This romantic movie is worthy, warmhearted family entertainment. As Emma, Paltrow is stunning -- funny and charming, but brave enough to give full weight to her character's occasional smallness and snobbery. Toni Collette, Alan Cumming, and Sophie Thompson ( as jabbering spinster Miss Bate) all turn in skilled comic performances.

While the story may seem a bit highbrow to attract a young audience, kids will warm to it. The mysterious behavior of Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax will catch their interest, and they'll find characters to identify with, regardless of the occasionally highfalutin dialogue. With its spectacular interiors and gorgeous swaths of English countryside, viewers with reasonable attention spans will find plenty to like. While die-hard Austen fans may cast a vote for the BBC version of Emma, this is a much more appealing version for a general audience.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether Austen's stories remain relevant today. What aspects are relatable in the modern world?

  • What do you think about Emma's hobby of setting up matches? Do you think she finds good pairs? Do you think the recipients of her attention appreciate her efforts?

  • Why is Emma unable to see her own romantic possibilities?

  • What do you think about the manners of the era? How do they differ from contemporary mores?

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Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 2, 1996
DVD release date:January 5, 1999
Cast:Alan Cumming, Gwyneth Paltrow, Toni Collette
Director:Douglas McGrath
Studio:Miramax
Genre:Romance
Topics:Book characters
Run time:120 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:for brief mild language

This review of Emma was written by

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

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old January 9, 2011
AGE
7
QUALITY
 
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written byLissaNicky April 18, 2010
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Pretty Bad... not a must see

This movie was VERY boring! the only good part was the happy ending.
Adult Written bycaitlin414 December 26, 2009

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