Ghost World

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Ghost World Movie Poster Image
Offbeat indie dramedy will resonate with older teens.
  • R
  • 2001
  • 111 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Although there are positive messages about friendship -- the protagonists are loyal to each other -- there are also negative messages that in order to be hip you have to be a slacker who doesn't go to college, care about work, or much of anything other than making fun of other people.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Enid, in particular, shows a great contempt for most people, calling everyone "stupid" and saying she "hates everyone." Besides Becky, her only friend is Seymour, who also lives in an insular world surrounded only by people who like the exact same things as he. Enid is irresponsible, refuses to hold down a job, and has a superiority complex but is also strong, opinionated, impervious to peer pressure, and a loyal friend to Seymour until she sleeps with him. Becky is a good role model for an unconditional friend who isn't afraid to confront or criticize her friend when it's appropriate.


An 18-year-old sleeps with a much older man but all that's shown is a brief kiss in one scene and then the two (covered up) in bed the next. An adult couple flirts, dances. Enid and Becky discuss relationships and joke about virginity, past boyfriends. Enid drags Seymour into a XXX store to make fun of its patrons.


Frequently used words include "f--k," "s--t," "assh--e," and the occasional "c--t" and "pu--y." "God damn!" is also said fairly often.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teenage girls drink and smoke cigarettes, and in one scene, a protagonist gets drunk and sleeps with a much older man.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this coming-of-age indie follows two best friends the summer after they graduate from high school. The graphic-novel adaptation is not your typical teen flick. There is a lot of strong language ("f--k," "c--t," "p---y" and other curse words are said frequently) and an intimate friendship between an 18-year-old girl and a much older man that's eventually consummated (the couple is briefly shown kissing and then in bed next to each other). The main theme of the movie may go over some teens' heads; it's basically that becoming an adult can be boring and confusing, and how working and conforming is a lot less hip than just doing whatever you want.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycami098 August 14, 2020

such a cute and fun movie

this was a very fun movie! there’s quite a lot of language, mostly being spoken by 18 year old characters. nothing that a kid wouldn’t hear in school or on soci... Continue reading
Adult Written bywonder dove December 27, 2012

Different & cool!

This is probably one of my all time favorite movies ever! I first caught this on late night TV and watched the entire thing, then bought it shortly after. I lov... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bytheatrekid April 21, 2021

Lonely Worlds

This is the true film about the outcasts, the loners, the ghosts of this world, hence the title. Enid is so relatable and the general aesthetic is so real. It h... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byBestPicture1996 August 9, 2012

Movie about hipsters is as cool as it gets

While some might call Becca and Enid hipsters nowadays, what with their not going into the mainstream, you love these 2 cynics by the end of the movie. Buscemi... Continue reading

What's the story?

Best friends Enid (Thora Birch) and Becky (Scarlett Johanssen) have just graduated from high school and have no plans to do the complacent college-bound plan. They're going to score a job, move in together, listen to music, play pranks on losers who place personal ads, and hang out like 18-year-old hipsters everywhere. After luring Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a lonely 40-something blues aficionado to a fake date, Enid grows attached to him, alienating Becky and providing a welcome distraction from the boring call of adulthood.

Is it any good?

Director Terry Zwigoff perfectly captures the ennui of transitioning from adolescent to adult. Enid, especially, isn't always likable (especially after seducing Seymour), but she and Becky are always believable as cooler-than-thou 18-year-olds who march to the beat of their own drums, completely uninterested in being like their "phony" peers.

Birch is a revelation as a girl-woman who thinks she's ready for an adult relationship but lacks the maturity to handle one. Buscemi is touching as a tragic "dork" loner who finds a kindred spirit in Enid, even though their intimacy is short-lived. Their performances make Zwigoff's adaptation of Daniel Clowes' popular graphic novel a must-see in the genre of offbeat coming-of-age stories.


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about coming-of-age movies about high-school graduates. What common themes are present in most of these adolescent films?

  • Parents and kids can also discuss Enid's friendship with Seymour. How is their inter-generational relationship portrayed?

  • How do Enid and Becky affect and influence each other? Which one of them do you relate to more? Why?

  • Adaptations of graphic novels have become quite popular. What are the best examples of the genre?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love movies about growing up

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