A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, while a classic, isn't for kids. From start to finish, it's full of brutal violence, cruel characters, and strong language. Innocent people are terrorized and beaten. Killings are graphic -- including several execution-style shootings. This intense, realistic movie also has lots of drinking (sometimes to excess), drug use, cheating, theft, corruption, and dishonesty. And it doesn't have any heroes or positive role models.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
From the mid-1950s as a young teen, to the 1980s as a broken, recovering drug addict in fear for his life, the real-life Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) was a member of the Mob. In Henry's words, "I belonged," and that to him meant everything. In lockstep with the icy, controlled violence of Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and the unbalanced savagery of Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), Henry traveled in style, breaking laws, abusing those he loved, untouched by corrupt cops and revered by fawning hangers-on. Only when Henry's mistakes, fueled by drug addiction and paranoia, led to certain awareness that his days in organized crime were numbered did Henry turn himself in to the FBI, rat on his friends, and talk his way into the witness protection program.
Is it any good?
This classic tale of mob life in New York City is a stunning, vivid look at the ugliness and depravity of a subculture that’s been glamorized, sanitized, and romanticized in countless other films. This is the real deal. Nothing prepares an audience for the raw amorality and insanity of this crew. No movie has better shown how the "goodfellas" create a community wholly isolated from the rest of society by its own warped values and staggeringly amoral code. In scene after scene, Scorsese and his team bring this magnetic evil to life.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what all the violence in Goodfellas tells you about its characters. What happens when a close-knit group of people considers itself above the law?
Using Henry Hill and Karen Hill as examples, how do the filmmakers show the mob's influence on the values and behavior of its individual members? How does it change them?
What do you think the filmmakers are trying to say about peer pressure and going along with "the gang"? Why do you think there are no real "good fellas" in this movie?
- In theaters: September 19, 1990
- On DVD or streaming: March 26, 1997
- Cast: Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro
- Director: Martin Scorsese
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 146 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: thematic material, violence, and sexual content
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
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.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch