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Parents' Guide to

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

By Kelly Kessler, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Civil rights, love, and family drama in '60s classic.

Movie NR 1967 112 minutes
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 12+
age 6+

An Essential '60s Classic!

It would be completely understandable if anyone criticized this movie for playing it very safe after taking some severe risks at the beginning, and that in doing so the story not only became progressively formulaic; but the characters appeared to be stereotyped and, worst of all, self-contradictory and inconsistent. That said, the acting here is undoubtedly more than enough to overcome these issues and redeem them, nay, to totally justify these seemingly nonsensical changes and alterations that happened to some of the characters, most noticeably Matt and Christina Drayton. I have seen a lot of great performances that are able to elevate the characters and even the entire movie in general. But, frankly, I have never seen any performance, no matter how superb it may be, that can convince me of what I considered an unmistakably major flaw. What makes me appreciate the acting, in particular, in this movie is that it opened my eyes to some hidden underlying themes of the movie's story, which are more than fundamental to understand the movie properly. If the fabulously realistic and sincere performances, somehow, didn't do the same for you, I suggest you try you figure out some key themes to consider them as you're watching the movie. Two of the most important themes are; the late resurgence of the inherited awful traditions and beliefs, and the undiscovered hypocrisy. Yes, that's how profound this apparently simple film actually is! Of course, the shift in Matt Drayton's attitude could have been executed way more smoothly and maturely; but the abrupt nature of the changes could be fairly, if not quite easily, taken as a reflection of the character's disorder. Spencer Tracy, in his final role, gave, for lack of a better word, a mature performance that made his character surprisingly believable despite its outwardly incompatible attitudes that made the character of Matt Drayton seem to be immensely problematic. Sidney Poitier's performance, as the handsome African-American Dr. John Prentice, is solid, steady, committed, engaging and relatable at the same time. Katharine Houghton captured the rebelliousness, impetuousness, and also the innocence of her character, Joey, so perfectly. She reminded me quite a bit of another Katharine; Katharine Ross as Elaine Robinson in The Graduate, which was, also coincidentally, released at the same year, 1967. But it's Katharine Hepburn who stole the show here with her Oscar-winning performance that I personally consider as one of the best low-key performances in a leading female role I've ever seen in film! I would be lying if I said that I found the second half of the movie half as entertaining and riveting. Nevertheless, the dialogue was much better at the second half (the final monologue is simply remarkable!) as it was at the first, which is noticeably elevated by, once again, the incredible acting. The movie is decidedly filled with stereotypical characters, but the only one that bothered me is the maid, Tillie, whom I didn't find to be funny at all; actually she is quite annoying. Her character's motivations and attitudes are justified, though. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is an essential classic 1960s film, and one of the best films that examine prejudice and racism; it tackles its weighty themes with surprising depth, humor and breeziness. It's also very relevant nowadays. And there is no doubt that it has major influences on hundreds of movies that came after it, especially today's. (8.5/10)

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6 ):
Kids say (2 ):

It may seem a bit dated due to its 1960s jive lingo and its dominant feelings regarding race, but this film still presents a funny and relevant tale of parent-child quarreling and social conflict. It combines big-name stars and contemporary themes to create a meaningful tale questioning family, love, and social norms. Hepburn delivers a hilariously understated scene as she calmly (yet insultingly) fires her racist assistant.

The film also marks the last onscreen pairing of longtime lovers and costars Hepburn and Tracy. Hepburn would nurse Tracy through his final battle with poor health; he succumbed to a heart attack just weeks after filming. Pay attention and you'll catch a funny and biting appearance by Isabel Sanford, the family maid who quips, "Civil rights is one thing. This here is somethin' else!" Kids who saw the 2005 remake, Guess Who, starring Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher, might be interested in seeing this film with a little parental encouragement.

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