Finding Forrester Movie Poster Image

Finding Forrester



Quality characters, solid film; OK for ages 14+.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: May 19, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 133 minutes

What parents need to know


Some tense moments -- characters push one another, one character throws a glass into a wall.


Overheard sounds of couple having sex, some sexual references.


Some strong language including "f--k."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Character drinks often, reference to drunk driving accident.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has brief strong language and sexual references and situations (Jamal's neighbors have loud sex on the other side of his bedroom wall). Forrester says that women will have sex with anyone who has written a book. Jamal and Claire take their relationship very slowly and show a lot of respect and concern for each other. Forrester drinks a good bit, and talks about a character who died in a drunk driving accident.

What's the story?

In the inner city, a mysterious man nicknamed "The Window" (Connery) is never seen leaving his apartment. Local teen Jamal (Rob Brown) accepts a dare to enter the man's apartment. The man surprises him, and he races out, leaving his backpack behind. The next day, the backpack is thrown out the window, and Jamal finds extensive comments in his private journals. He returns to "The Window" to ask for more comments, and, slowly, a friendship begins. It turns out that the man is William Forrester, recluse author of one of the century's greatest books who has not published a book since his first won the 1954 Pulitzer Prize. Jamal's test scores earn him a full scholarship at a posh private school, but they want more from him on the basketball court than in the classroom. Some of his new classmates are friendly, especially Claire (Anna Paquin). But teacher Mr. Crawford (F. Murray Abraham) is suspicious and accuses Jamal of plagiarism. The only one who can defend him is a man who has not left his apartment in decades.

Is it any good?


There's nothing more appealing to watch in a movie than one character teaching another, except perhaps when two characters teach each other, as they do here. This reliable formula is well-presented in this fine film about two great writers at different stages of their careers. Newcomer Rob Brown is as impressive as the Oscar-winning trio of Connery, Paquin, and Abraham. Some of the best scenes are those in which Jamal unleashes his hidden smarts to skewer those who dared to have preconceptions about him. There are also scenes of real loyalty and connection between Jamal and Forrester, and between Jamal and his brother (Busta Rhymes in his best performance yet) and between Jamal and Claire.

The movie's primary weakness is its climax confrontation, which is artificially constructed and unrealistic. Forrester's explanation of his decision to withdraw from the world and his decision to change is weakly handled. Jamal may be just a little too perfect. And a brief in-joke appearance by a big star is distracting.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why Jamal and Forrester hide their talents. How does the fact that both have lost family members provide an important connection for them? Why is it important for us to find people who can teach us? Why was Crawford so angry, and do you agree with Forrester's comment about "bitterly disappointed teachers?" What prejudices are revealed by the characters? Do you agree that "people are most afraid of what they don't understand?" Family members can also talk about Forrester's advice that the first draft is written with the heart, the second with the head, and might want to try his technique for getting started on writing.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 22, 2000
DVD release date:April 24, 2001
Cast:F. Murray Abraham, Rob Brown, Sean Connery
Director:Gus Van Sant
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:133 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:language and sexual references

This review of Finding Forrester was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 15 years old Written byTotally500 April 23, 2012

finding forrester is an outstanding film

an outsanding film i enjoy it a lot
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bymeganderson25 June 2, 2010
I think it was AWESOME. It taught kids and adults that ANYONE in the world could acheve their dreams. Ether black or white. We're all the same
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written byAshnak April 9, 2008

Great empowering movie

Excellent inner city movie that actually builds up people and doesn't tear them down.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?