Father and child sit together smiling while looking at a smart phone.

Want more recommendations for your family?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration

Parents' Guide to


By Alistair Lawrence, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Ethel Kennedy docu has archive war footage, trauma, smoking.

Movie NR 2013 94 minutes
Ethel documentary poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

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

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

An attempt to tell one of the lesser-known stories of the Kennedy family, this documentary does its best to allow its subject, Ethel Kennedy, to give us an account of her life in her own words. Inevitably, Ethel is done in the shadow of two high-profile assassinations: those of her husband, Robert F. Kennedy, and his brother, President John F. Kennedy. Ethel and the other interviewees -- her children, the youngest of whom, filmmaker Rory, is also the documentary's director -- are at their most talkative when relaying family anecdotes about their slightly chaotic households, and also the work their parents did to help further the civil rights movement.

This glowing family portrait highlights how committed the group remain to one another, and also does a good job portraying how grief affects us all. Ethel's reluctance to offer any introspection about her life and loved ones also perhaps shows more than she realizes. Her stoicism suits her to life in the public eye as a political and human rights campaigner, as does her lack of ego. Of course, there is another history of the Kennedy family that is not explored here, perhaps for obvious reasons. Various conspiracies, accusations, and scandals are also part of their past. Ethel might not be the documentary to discuss them, but there's no escaping the sense that it's one-sided and enjoyed best as edited highlights of one of the United States' most famous families.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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