A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Makes audiences think about the possible downsides to blind obedience -- and why it's important to check your moral compass before following orders.
Positive Role Models
Dr. Milgram and his staff are dedicated to finding out how people behave. Milgram is intelligent and curious and wants to make sense of horrible times when people failed to question authority. His wife, Sasha, is supportive, caring, and smart.
Violence & Scariness
Disturbing scene of Stanley having a heart attack; subjects in the experiment are upset and uncomfortable when they believe they're shocking another person in the experiment.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An adult couple kisses passionately on a bed.
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One "f--k," plus "damn," "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine and cocktails at parties/a bar. Characters smoke cigarettes (accurate for the era).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Experimenter is a serious biographical drama about legendary social scientist Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard), best known for his obedience experiments and the "six degrees of separation" theory. The movie deals with heavy subjects like the correlation between obedience and the inability to resist orders -- even immoral ones. Milgram's personal story also reveals his motivation for his experiments (the Holocaust) and his need to figure out why so many people carried out atrocities believing they were "just following orders." There are a couple of curse words (including one "f--k") and some passionate kissing, as well as social drinking and cigarette smoking -- as was more typical of the '60s and '70s. It's really the themes, more than any specific iffy content, that make this movie aimed at mature/academically inclined teens interested in discussing the experiments. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Sarsgaard shines in this unconventional biopic of controversial psychologist Stanley Milgram. EXPERIMENTER will make audiences think, squirm, and wonder whether they would have had the strength to question authority in these famous experiments. As famous actors pop up on screen to play the teachers in Milgram's experiments (Anthony Edwards, John Leguizamo, Taryn Manning, etc.), it's clear that, despite discomfort, most people will do as they're told. But what if doing as you're told ends in someone else's pain? What if it's a direct order to hurt someone else?
Ryder and Sarsgaard have a believable chemistry, and Gaffigan is memorable as the learner who's supposedly being shocked in the experiments but is actually part of the staff. Milgram often breaks the fourth wall to discuss his life, put events in context, and even to complain. Sarsgaard's portrayal is compelling enough not to let this atypical narrative device fall flat or get cheesy. Talking to the camera genuinely works because Milgram is such a driven, interesting man with a fascinating reason to delve into the idea of obedience. His later coining of the "six degrees of separation" idea gets short shrift, but ultimately this is a finely acted and directed look at a scientist who changed the way we think about human behavior.
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.