Parents' Guide to

First Man

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Intimate, serious drama about reluctant space hero.

Movie PG-13 2018 141 minutes
First Man Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 19 parent reviews

age 13+

age 14+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (19 ):
Kids say (19 ):

Gosling gives a fabulous performance as the thoughtful, intelligent space pioneer in this intimate, visceral, serious biopic. Chazelle's adaptation of James R. Hansen's First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong is an up close and personal exploration of Armstrong's life in the 1960s. The movie opens with a bumpy, hair-raising, dizzying test flight on the rocket-powered X-15 -- a scene that's contrasted with a heartbreaking sequence in which it's clear that Neil's little girl is sick. After her death, Neil can't allow anyone to see him break down, and that stoicism about loss continues throughout the years as he survives the death of fellow pilots and astronauts who weren't just colleagues but close friends. Gosling is a masterful actor: one who never overacts and seems to truly understand the art of subtlety. It helps that Armstrong isn't an alpha male space cowboy or an ambitious extrovert like Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll); he's humble, hardworking, and at times emotionally distant.

Although the movie offers plenty of nerve-wracking moments and beautiful cinematography (especially in the space/rocket scenes), this character study isn't as similar to Apolllo 13, Gravity, or The Right Stuff as moviegoers might expect. Chazelle keeps the film focused on the two Armstrongs, without trying to capture every major event or figure involved in the space race. Unlike many other fact-based movies about that time, which only superficially include the astronauts' wives, Chazelle gives Foy's Janet lots of screen time as the wife left behind to keep house, tamp down her nerves, and hope that her husband doesn't end up as another NASA casualty. Thanks to Josh Singer's deft script, Linus Sandgren's memorable cinematography, and Gosling and Foy's excellent performances -- buoyed by an excellent supporting cast -- First Man proves that Armstrong is a uniquely humble legend and that Chazelle is one of the most versatile filmmakers in Hollywood.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

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