Ghost World Movie Poster Image

Ghost World

Offbeat indie dramedy will resonate with older teens.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 111 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.

Not applicable

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.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

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.

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.


Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:July 20, 2001
DVD/Streaming release date:February 5, 2002
Cast:Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi, Thora Birch
Director:Terry Zwigoff
Run time:111 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong language and some sexual content.

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Adult Written bywhateverfloats September 14, 2009
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
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 gives a great performance as a loser, but not a creepy one like in his other roles, you feel a lot of sympathy towards him. The film is hilariously accurate in parts, like never seeing people after high school, and has great dialogue between characters.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
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 love the quirkiness of it and how different it is than most films shown today. It's very retro and the music is funny. Best friends Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) are outcasts who criticize pretty much everyone they come in contact with. Enid seems the most opinionated and Becca seems more quiet yet together. You rarely see the two smiling except if it's a mean comment about someone or something. After graduating high school, the two make fun of an ad in the personals section of the paper by a loser named Seymour and decide to play a prank on him, inviting him to a fake date to watch him leave empty handed. Soon after following him around, Enid finally talks to him during a garage sale and instantly develops a "thing" for him as she eventually grows more and more attracted to him. Becca just thinks she's nuts. The two girls' friendship starts to lessen when Enid starts hanging out more with Seymour than her own best friend Becca causing a lot more arguments and jealously amongst them. When Seymour surprisingly finds the perfect woman with Enid's help, Enid becomes jealous and breaks their relationship, sleeping with him and then taking off due to her insecurities. The story ends kind of cold. There's no violence except for some verbal abuse, language is very strong and frequent with lots of "F" words, there is teen drinking & smoking. Enid is tipsy from alcohol and sleeps with Seymour - just kissing and laying in bed is shown, some flirting, a sex shop is shown in a comedic way with Enid making fun of all the merchandise and the "creeps" who go there. Great funny movie that you can watch over & over. Okay for ages 16++!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking