Fried Green Tomatoes



Stirring, sizzling serving of female empowerment.
  • Review Date: January 12, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1991
  • Running Time: 137 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Idgy steals food and a car and says bad things about church, but she's also kind-hearted, taking care of people who can't afford to pay and helping a homeless man. A preacher lies for Idgy and Big George. Evelyn smashes into another car several times, but also empowers herself by getting a job and eating healthy. Strong messages about friendship.


One character is hit and killed by a train (off-screen) at the beginning of the film, and another is almost killed by a train. Ruth's husband is abusive. He kicks her down a flight of stairs when she's pregnant, and viewers see her with a black eye. A KKK group whips Big George and threatens to steal Ruth's baby and hurt Idgy. Frank hits Sipsey and Smokey Lonesome. A character is murdered off-screen.


Evelyn fantasizes about answering her front door wearing only cellophane. There's an intense sexual connection between Idgy and Ruth, though nothing sexual or romantic happens on-screen.


Considerable salty language, including "hell," "damn," "g-ddammit," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "fat bitch," "assholes," "bastards." Some KKK members also refer to African-Americans as the "N" word several times.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Idgy drinks, smokes a cigar, and gambles. Ruth gets drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film is heartwarming but also contains many violent and scary scenes that are probably too much for young kids. Several characters die, including main characters, which may be difficult for sensitive kids or kids who have lost a loved one. The KKK has a presence in the film, whipping one character and threatening another. One main character suffers spousal abuse while pregnant. The film offers plenty of comeuppance for the bad guys, though, and focuses on the empowerment of women through their bold actions. Also of note: The subtext is that Idgy and Ruth are lesbian partners, though the film never shows anything that would make that clear.

What's the story?

Evelyn (Kathy Bates) is a repressed Southern housewife who downs a dozen candy bars a day to cope with her failing marriage when she meets the frail Ninny Threadgoode (Jessica Tandy) at a senior citizens' home. Ninny tells Evelyn the story of Idgy (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Ruth's (Mary-Louise Parker) life together in the tiny Alabama town of Whistle Stop. Nonconformist Idgy, a young woman prone to wearing men's clothes and gambling, and God-fearing Ruth face abusive husbands, the KKK, and even a murder rap together. Through it all, they raise Ruth's son, Buddy Jr., and learn how important it is to protect those you love no matter what.

Is it any good?


Like all good Southern gothic stories, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES serves up a heaping portion of tall tales, scary situations, and explorations of social issues. The story unfolds in ellipses and fable-like flashbacks that make it both spellbinding and frightening, teaching viewers the importance of altruism.

Fried Green Tomatoes wouldn't be the long-standing favorite it is without the phenomenal performances of some of the day's best actors. Bates, Tandy, Cicely Tyson, and Parker bring this tale to life. They also raise questions about whether the way we deal with issues like homelessness and racial intolerance is much better today.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about empowerment in the characters' lives. Many had to stray from the good opinions of others to feel empowered. Is ignoring your critics a good idea sometimes? Was it a good idea for Idgy? Was it good for Ruth? Why or why not? Ruth is also abused by her husband, which may be a good opportunity for parents to talk to kids about what's acceptable in relationships and how to identify someone who's abusive.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 12, 1991
DVD release date:December 15, 1998
Cast:Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker
Director:John Avnet
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:137 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:violence, thematic intensity.

This review of Fried Green Tomatoes was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written bydanya t November 9, 2014

Phenomenal movie....

This was an amazing movie...though it does have some violence it is all easily explained and simple to follow. It has a very positive message and is very entertaining!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Parent Written byconstantvigilance June 26, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

Good movie for older teens. Short scenes of domestic abuse and racial violence make the movie a little intense. A few sexual comments.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Adult Written byPoetic Ramblings January 8, 2014

A good adaptation of my favorite novel

While this movie glosses over the issues of gender, sexuality, and race at the center of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe it is still wonderful. Missing: Idgie and Ruth's love story, Idgie's folk hero status, Eva's 3 legged dog, Idgie's bout with alcoholism, Evelyn's neurosis and transformation, Big George's back story, and much more.


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