A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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. He 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
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.