A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has some strong language, characters are in peril and some are injured, and a character is raped (inexplicit and mostly offscreen). A character is wrongfully accused of molesting a child. A bully who accuses others of being "queer" turns out to be acting on his fears about his own sexuality. Fighting back is portrayed as heroic. There are a couple of chaste kisses.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
It is summertime, and Billy has just turned 11. His widowed mother can't buy him the bicycle he dreams and is quick to remind him that they have very little money. Billy's mom takes in stranger Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins), who hires Billy to read to him and watch out for "the low men," who wear hats, drive fancy cars, and leave odd messages in code on telephone poles. Billy thinks Ted is a little loony, but he agrees, at first because he wants to earn money for the bicycle, and then because he is drawn to Ted's warmth, humor, and even his oddness. He begins to see signs of the low men, but he does not tell Ted. When Billy touches Ted, he gets a little bit of Ted's psychic ability. Even more important, though, is that way that Ted, like all special grown-ups in the lives of children, guides Billy to a new knowledge of himself and the world. Ted helps Billy realize that his friend Carol is more special to him than he thought, that he deserves better treatment from his mother, and that the town bully is not as powerful as he thinks.
Is it any good?
If you're allergic to the kind of movie that starts with a funeral and then goes into a flashback about a sensitive kid's last childhood summer, then stay away from HEARTS IN ATLANTIS. But audiences with an appreciation or even a tolerance of this genre will find this to be above average. It is based on a story by Stephen King. There is some tension and an element of the supernatural, but this is King's coming of age mode (Stand By Me) and contact with an extraordinary character mode (The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile), not a horror movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
For kids who love dramas
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.