Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind



Imaginative, loopy romance has mature themes, profanity.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: September 27, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie explores the idea that it's better to have loved someone and known all the joy the experience brings -- in spite of the hurt and sorrow that might come with the relationship and the relationship's ending -- than to go through life unscathed without having met that person.

Positive role models

In spite of their imperfections and the difficulties in their failing relationship, Joel and Clementine grow to realize that the memories and experiences they shared are important and necessary to who they are as individuals.

Not applicable

While reliving a memory as a tween, the lead character is caught masturbating by his mother. Characters are shown talking after having sex. Briefly exposed male buttocks.


Frequent profanity. "F--k" is used often. "Bitch," "faggot," "ass," "s--t," "p--sy."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One of the lead characters is shown stumbling into an apartment after drunkenly driving her boyfriend's car into a fire hydrant. Characters are shown drinking beer and alcohol and acting intoxicated. Early in the movie, a character is shown pouring whiskey into her coffee while in a diner. Characters smoke marijuana; in one scene, a woman is noticeably high and starts babbling uncontrollably in front of her boss. Cigarette smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is a 2004 movie that explores the oft-stated idea that it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. There is frequent profanity throughout the film; the F-word, among others, is used quite a bit. Characters are often shown drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes and marijuana. In one scene, a woman stumbles into the apartment of her boyfriend after drunkenly driving his car into a fire hydrant. In another scene, a man is arguing with his girlfriend about how he likes to get high on marijuana to balance out being drunk. These scenes, and the general theme of preserving memories in spite of the pain they cause in the aftermath of a failed relationship, make this film best for mature teens and adults.

What's the story?

Joel (Jim Carrey) is trying to work through the pain and sorrow of his recently ended relationship with Clementine (Kate Winslet). When he realizes that Clementine underwent a procedure to have all her memories of her time with Joel completely removed, he meets with the company that performed the procedure and decides that he wants the exact same thing. But as the process begins, and as he re-experiences these memories he shared with Clementine, he begins to have second thoughts. With Clementine's help, he begins to take control of the memories as a way to try and preserve as much as he can from his time with her, and even as these memories begin to fade away, Clementine and Joel work to figure out a way in which they can meet again, in spite of their clean slates.

Is it any good?


This fabulously imaginative and deliciously loopy romance is the sweetest movie yet from the magnificently twisty mind of writer Charlie Kaufman, who plays with the themes of identity, time, memory, and attraction in a slightly off-kilter world that seems oddly home-like and familiar. Shot in a style that is both gritty and dreamy, the movie's insinuatingly casual tone gently nudges the concepts along so it almost begins to make more sense than real life.

Carrey and Winslet risk making their characters as maddening to us as they are to each other and are ultimately as irresistible, too. Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, and Kirsten Dunst are impeccable, providing a bittersweet counterpoint of imperfection and longing. Director Michel Gondry matches Kaufman's script with understated but brilliantly original imagery of memory and forgetting.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about which memories they might think about erasing and which ones they will always make sure to keep. They might also like to look up the meaning of the word "lacuna," talk about some of their favorite quotations, and read some of the brilliant poetry of Alexander Pope.

  • How is the nature of memory explored and shown throughout the film? Does the disjointed nature of some of the scenes mirror your own attempts to remember moments from your life?

  • Did the drug and alcohol use in the movie seem gratuitous or a realistic reflection of what these adult characters did in their lives?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 12, 2004
DVD release date:September 27, 2004
Cast:Elijah Wood, Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet
Director:Michel Gondry
Studio:Focus Features
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, some drug and sexual content

This review of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was written by

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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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Adult Written byperlepress April 9, 2008


What were these two excellent actors thinking. This is a stupid, ill conceived somewhat sour movie. COmpletely missable.
Teen, 13 years old Written bybubbleboy April 13, 2009


This is, by far, the best work that Jim Carrey has EVER done; even better than "The Truman Show." Also turning in a rather fabulous performance is one of my favorite actresses, the marvelous Kate Winslet. Charlie Kauffman once again proves his brilliance in this, zany, eccentric, and undeniably sweet romantic comedy-sci fi-thing. The film begins at the end, one of the brilliances of it, so my review may prove to be confusing, but one of the films' many strengths is the way that it takes sucha complicated idea and make it easy-to-follow without being simple or shallow. Here goes nothin': Jim Carrey boards a train and meets Kate Winslet, and they sprak a relationship. Then the film goes forward (or backward?) in time to where he and she broke up. While attempting to win back Winslet's Clementine, Carrey's Joel realizes that there's something fishy going on. Led by her friends to a company that erases minds called Lacuna (Brilliant, isn't it), used primarily for bad relationships. Joel decides to have the same done, but begins second guessung himself as they start the procedure. And that's only the beginning. We then go inside Joel's mind, where a conscious version of himself desperately tries two things to keep them from erasing Clementine forever: 1. Wake himself up or 2. Hide her in memories that they'd never think to look in. *BREATH* Isn't that positively labyrinthine? And as that story continues and we learn more about Joel's early life, we learn that the relationships at Lacuna are just as messed up as the people that they treat. This is definitely one of my favorite films, and would reccomend it to anyone who is a teenager. Personally, I think that Common Sense overreacted with the whole 17+ thing for there was some suggestive material (brief drug use, sexual content without nudity) but it was nothing that I hadn't been exposed to before nor do I think that many teens haven't. So run, don't walk, to see "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," you definitely won't be sorry.
Adult Written bymasterofthemovies March 18, 2011
one of the best movies i've ever seen. the only problem some parents would have is some common R rated language throughout the film. some IMPLIED sex and some brief drug use. in the end all of that can be overlooked for a great story that is incredible.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages


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