A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ghost is a 1990 movie in which Patrick Swayze is a recently murdered man who remains as a ghost in order to warn the love of his life (Demi Moore) of impending danger. There's no nudity, but plenty of alluring shots and implied lovemaking. One bad guy is squished between two vehicles and the other is pierced through the torso by a jagged sheet of glass. Blood shown in these deaths. Demonic imagery in two scenes. Occasional profanity, including one use of "f--k" and more frequent uses of words like "s--t." In one scene, a practical joke between two characters on a crowded elevator is centered on how one of the characters has a highly contagious genital rash. Families grieving over the loss of a loved one due to senseless criminal violence would be wise to avoid this movie.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When Sam (Patrick Swayze) is killed by a mugger, he's left in some kind of limbo here on earth, able to witness events but unable to communicate with the living. He turns to Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a wacky spiritual advisor, to help track down his killer and protect his distraught girlfriend, Molly (Demi Moore). Through Oda Mae, Sam is able to talk to Molly and they even have one last physical encounter through Oda Mae's body. Sam and Oda Mae manage to discover the killer, who turns out to be Sam's embezzling coworker and former best friend, Carl. In a wild climax, Sam kills Carl, who's then carried away by nasty demons. With Molly watching, Sam ascends in a beautiful, white light.
Is it any good?
Ghost is melodramatic and spiritually simplistic, but the combination of comedy, thrills, and mushy romance will be irresistible to some. While it doesn't explain why bad things happen to good people, it tries to reassure us that good people can find divine justice. Filled with ersatz spirituality, the movie presents a syrupy vision of the afterlife; the good guys ascend to heaven in a beam of light and bad guys are carried to hell by demons.
In the first 40 minutes, the movie plays like a melodrama, chock-a-block with unrestrained passion, gruesome murder, and plenty of suspense. With the introduction of Whoopi Goldberg as a storefront spiritual advisor, the movie radically changes direction to become a comedy. The romance also becomes a major factor. Some teens may enjoy seeing how love can conquer all -- even murder.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's formula. Why do the good guys tend to win in big Hollywood movies? If the movie had a more ambiguous ending, would it be as popular? Can you think of movies or other stories that didn't conclude happily?
What are some other examples of movies centered on the afterlife? How is this movie similar and different?
There are some violent deaths in this movie. Did the violence seem necessary to what was happening in the movie, or did it seem gratuitous?
- In theaters: July 13, 1990
- On DVD or streaming: April 24, 2001
- Cast: Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze, Whoopi Goldberg
- Director: Jerry Zucker
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: Mature Themes
- Last updated: August 12, 2020
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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.
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