Fair Game

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Fair Game Movie Poster Image
Tense Valerie Plame story mixes drama, politics.
  • PG-13
  • 2010
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Although the movie makes it clear that Joseph Wilson is trying to do the right thing by telling the truth about the war in Iraq, instead of accomplishing something positive, he and his family lose their peace of mind and their well being. The United States government (circa 2002-2003) is portrayed as a formidable villain, and the characters are tempted to give up, but they keep fighting. Their victory is small compared to the price they've paid, but they at least meet the challenge.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame could be considered positive role models in their own ways. Wilson is shocked to hear that the government has lied to the American people and tries to help spread the truth, even at the cost of his wife's job and their family's well being. Plame is personally involved with one of her projects, trying to save the lives of a family in Iraq before the war starts. She's tempted to give up the fight, and her marriage suffers great tension, but both she and Wilson persevere against all odds.


Several tense arguments and shouting matches, and characters receive death threats. The entire story takes place on the verge of war, which adds an underlying tension to the film. Subsequently, viewers see a few attacks and explosions in the Middle East involving secondary characters.


A married couple kisses, and it's implied that they have sex.


Language is fairly infrequent overall; "f--k" is used a couple of times, and "s--t" is heard a few times. Other words include "a--hole," "p---y," "a--hole," "damn," "hell," "oh my God," "crap," and "goddamn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink a bit too much (mostly beer and wine) at dinner parties. One character smokes cigars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this engaging, suspenseful political drama -- which is based on the true story of former covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose identity was compromised in the press, and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson -- portrays the U.S. government as a formidable villain that tries to suppress the truth. Expect some strong language (including "f--k" and "s--t"), lots of yelling and verbal fighting, and some war footage. Characters also drink and smoke cigars. It likely won't appeal to most kids, but politically-aware teens may appreciate the movie's eye-opening look at recent U.S. history.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bykhan2705 February 14, 2011

a compelling and engaging political thriller/human drama.


Plame's status as a CIA agent was revealed by White House officials allegedly out to discredit her husband after he wrote a 2003 New York Times op-e... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byTheSuperman765 April 4, 2011

I rate this film ON for ages 12+

The good stuff

Although the movie makes it clear that Joseph Wilson is trying to do the right thing by telling the truth about the... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybananalover March 28, 2011

Fair Game

violence: the hole story is on verge of war, there are tense arguments shouting matches and characters get death threats. the audience sees a few attacks and ex... Continue reading

What's the story?

In 2001, Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) is working as a covert CIA operative. Her husband, Joseph Wilson (Sean Penn), is a former ambassador. After reports of a huge sale of yellow cake uranium, the CIA agrees to send Wilson to Niger to investigate. He determines that no such sale took place, but months later, the White House reports the opposite and uses this information to justify going to war in Iraq. Wilson responds by writing an op-ed piece in the New York Times. Unfortunately, Plame's identity comes out in a subsequent news story, thereby destroying her career. The timing couldn't be worse: She was in the middle of trying to rescue a family from Iraq. And now she and her family are receiving death threats ...

Is it any good?

Director Doug Liman takes a story about secret meetings, phone calls, and article-writing and makes it dynamic and suspenseful.This kind of political thriller can be tricky to make; the tendency is either to throw in too much politics or too many thrills (see Green Zone for an example). But Liman finds a nice balance with FAIR GAME, sticking fairly close to the real-life facts, even if he does employ a few tried-and-true Hollywood tricks for easy shortcuts.

Best of all, Liman adds a welcome, moving human level to recent history. It's heartbreaking to see Watts, as Plame, helplessly watching TV pundits casting judgment on her, and the strain on Plame and Wilson's marriage is palpable. The pair were more or less branded as traitors for a time, but here we see them as two good people who tried to do their best in the wrong place at the wrong time. The characters are angry, yes, but the movie itself keeps a cool head.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's tension and moments of violence. How did it affect you? How did the movie accomplish this?

  • How does this real-life story work as a movie? Do you think filmmakers changed any facts to make the movie? Why might they choose to do that?

  • Did Wilson do the right thing by writing the article and attempting to tell the truth? What would have happened if he had done nothing?

  • Would you say that Wilson and Plame are heroes or traitors? Or something in-between? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills and politics

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

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate