Harold and Maude

Movie review by
Scott G. Mignola, Common Sense Media
Harold and Maude Movie Poster Image
A classic of dark comedy.
  • PG
  • 1971
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Maude steals, resists arrest, and drives recklessly. But she also teaches Harold to embrace life.


Harold's faked suicides are grisly, though no one is actually injured. Maude decides to end her own life.


Sex implied when college-age Harold wakes up beside 80-year-old Maude.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie deals with strong adult themes, such as Harold's obsession with suicide, and makes references to the Vietnam War and the Holocaust. But the overarching message of embracing life is a good one, especially for moody teens.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byD G July 29, 2017

One of the Best

I love this film. Over the years I have seen it again and again and always get more out of it. It is a perfectly crafted dark comedy with a whole lot of thou... Continue reading
Parent Written bycrankylibrarian January 3, 2014

Classic black humor, but not for everyone

Bizarre and macabre, H&M takes gallows humor to a new level, with Bud Cort as a baby-faced, black clad youth obsessed with funerals and fake suicides, a... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bydomromano19 March 21, 2021

A kid wouldn’t be too disturbed

A reference to sex between a 79 year old woman and a 20 year old man. But throughout the movie they develop a cute bond so it’s honestly not that bothersome to... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAstroPhysics August 18, 2016

Really great movie.

I really enjoyed watching it. Great, unexpected plot line. You learn to love maude through Harold's eyes very interestingly. and great music to.

What's the story?

Hal Ashby's 1971 black comedy Harold and Maude attained cult status for its portrayal of a morbid youth who falls in love with a spirited woman not twice, but four times his age. Maude's (Ruth Gordon) full-throttle zest for life inspires young Harold (Bud Cort), who is dramatically obsessed with death. It's a disquieting premise for a movie, certainly, but to dwell on the age difference of the characters is to miss the movie's point. More than a friend or lover, Maude infects the troubled Harold with her carpe diem attitude, freeing him from the inner demons of boredom and self-pity. In essence, she's his salvation.

Is it any good?

This wonderfully rich black comedy has a way of putting life's problems in perspective, especially for troubled youths. The movie's stormy themes may strike a special cord with teenagers who feel at times that no one understands them. They, and adults as well, will appreciate the dark humor that leads to a bright resolution. Parents of young teens, however, should be cautioned about mature subject matter and sexual situations.

Alarmingly pale Bud Cort gives us an idea of what frail Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol might look like at age 20, and Ruth Gordon's sprightliness lends the perfect counterbalance. Their performances earned them each a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination. The Cat Stevens soundtrack hasn't lost its impact over the years. In a movie that references Vietnam, his songs feel as natural a Volkswagen Bug and girls named Sunshine. The lyrics speak for the characters, reminding us that if you want to sing out, sing out, and if you want to be free, be free.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Harold acted out the way he did. What was he trying to get from his increasingly violent suicide attempts? How does Maude use humor to cope with things that Harold may find paralyzingly depressing?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate