Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Movie review by
Kelly Kessler, Common Sense Media
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Movie Poster Image
Civil rights, love, and family drama in '60s classic.
  • NR
  • 1967
  • 112 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Includes excellent examples of both men and women who choose to fight the prevailing norms regarding interracial relationships. Though released at a time of great cultural conflict in the United States, the main characters stick by their convictions and emotions rather than bending to social pressures.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The two characters who have quickly fallen in love refuse to let prejudice, hate, and bigotry dictate their decision to get married. The father of the woman, a newspaperman who espouses liberal opinions, sees how he might be falling short of his own professed ideals as he confronts his own reluctance to approve of his daughter's marriage, and grows to understand the error in his ways. 

Violence

A minor fender bender in the parking lot of a drive-in ice cream shop. 

Sex

Reference made to the changes in men when they get older and their sexual desire fades. 

Language

One use of the "N" word by the African-American maid to the African-American groom-to-be. Use of now-outdated terms for African Americans such as "Negro" and "colored." Occasional profanity: "bitch," "son of a bitch," "bastard," "ass," "hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Sherry and bourbon drinking. A monsignor drinks a little bit more than the other characters, but doesn't act drunk. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? is a classic 1967 that addresses the complexities of prejudice, racism, and bigotry as it pertains to a young interracial couple approaching their parents for the first time to discuss their impending (and hotly contested) marriage. The main conflict revolves around disagreements between parents and their children about interracial marriage and the generation gap in general. There is one use of the "N" word, spoken in the heat of a passionate diatribe delivered by an African-American maid to the groom-to-be. Outdated terms for African Americans such as "Negro" and "colored" are used. There is occasional profanity such as "bitch" and "hell." Overall, this movie remains relevant as it shows the simplicity and beauty of love amidst the complexities and ugliness of prejudice and bigotry in American society. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bybabysitrcares January 1, 2011

Must-see for nine and up!

This movie is excellent, an old classic. It has such a positive message and may help open the minds of young children to equality and love between people of dif... Continue reading
Parent of a 14 year old Written byTsion July 5, 2009

A Compelling Drama...

GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER is definitely a movie you will want to show your kids, and it's a movie that should be shown to everyone. Not only is it... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBestPicture1996 January 16, 2010

Outstandingly legendary movie

This and "In the Heat of the Night" (both were nominated for Best Picture in 1967 and featured Poitier) were similar in topic, though I have to say th... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 13, 2018

Racially Significant Classic Worth the Watch

Now, I normally don't favor many "old (40s, 50s, 60s)" movies besides Psycho and You Can't Take it With You, but this is a true classic wort... Continue reading

What's the story?

In GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER, two young people fall in love. The glitch comes when one is the handsome African-American doctor John Prentice (Sidney Poitier) and the other is the idealistic white Joanna Drayton (Katharine Houghton). The upper-class liberal Draytons (Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy) and working class Prentices (Beah Richards and Roy Glenn) are thrown into a tizzy, but everyone must figure out what to do during an impromptu dinner at the Drayton's fancy home. Eventually, ultimatums are cast, the mothers function as fonts of wisdom, and everyone must figure out how to live and love in a changing world.

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about parent-child relationships and issues of tolerance. Are families more tolerant of interracial relationships today? Why or why not?

  • What are the ways in which the movie feels firmly dated in its 1967 release, and what are the ways in which the movie feels relevant to the present? 

  • Each of the main characters delivers an extended monologue in which they present their views on love, race, marriage, family, and aging. What purposes do these monologues serve in both the film's story and underlying message? 

Movie details

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