High Fidelity

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
High Fidelity Movie Poster Image
Book-based romantic drama has cursing, smoking, sex.
  • R
  • 2000
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

No positive messages -- a reflection on the complexities of the dating life of a self-absorbed record store owner. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 

Violence

An ex-girlfriend of the lead character tells him how she was with another man in a situation that was borderline rape. Imagined violence, comic, against the new boyfriend of the lead character's ex -- the ex is beaten up in the record store, punched, kicked, bloodied. 

Sex

Two lead characters hear a couple having loud sex in the apartment above theirs. Female character shown taking off her clothes, topless, viewed from the back. Female character wears jeans with holes in the lower rear end. Lead character talks of trying to touch the breasts of girls he dated and trying to put his hand between their legs. In a flashback scene, lead character as a teen breaks up with a girl because she won't have sex with him. When one of the record store clerks has a date, another clerk tells him to "smoke that ass." Reference to an abortion.

Language

Frequent profanity. "F--k" often used. "Motherf--ker" used once. "S--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," "bastard," "ass." Middle finger gesture. During a flashback scene, while a tween, lead character sees his first girlfriend making out with another boy; his friend calls her a "slut." 

Consumerism

Lots of bands are name-checked.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lead character smokes cigarettes -- a lot of cigarettes. Drinking in bars, at dinner. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that High Fidelity is a 2000 comedy in which John Cusack plays a self-absorbed Chicago record store owner trying to make sense of a difficult break-up. When getting caught up with an ex-girlfriend over dinner, the ex tells the lead character how she was in a situation that was a borderline rape after they broke up. In a flashback, it's shown that the lead character, as a teen, broke up with her because she wouldn't have sex with him. Lead character talks of trying to touch the breasts of the girls he dated in high school, or to put his hand between their legs. The two lead characters hear a couple having sex in the apartment above theirs. When one of the record store clerks tells the other clerks that he has a date, one of the other clerks tells him to "smoke that ass." Frequent talk of sex, usually in the context of the relationships the lead character has had in his life. Reference to an abortion. In a flashback scene, when the lead character, as a tween, witnesses his first girlfriend making out with another boy, his friend calls her a "slut." Profanity often used -- "f--k" used a lot. "Motherf--ker" used once. "S--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," "bastard," "ass" also used. Lead character smokes a lot of cigarettes. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJennifer-Marie April 9, 2008
Parent Written byIan F. October 29, 2018

Great Comedy For Older Teens And Music Lovers!

"High Fidelity" is a perfect breakup film for anyone who has had their heart stomped on. Rob (John Cusack) is so self absorbed he loses the woman he l... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old December 11, 2013

Watch immediately

Absolutely love this movie, though many may say that it's inappropriate, and you are right, some kids will thank you for letting you watch this. I am 12 ye... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byYossarian April 9, 2008

I love this movie

I love watching this movie every single time. There is some objectional stuff, but you can see that from the little sidebar chart thing. People have sex and d... Continue reading

What's the story?

In HIGH FIDELITY, Rob Gordon (John Cusack) owns a vintage record store called Championship Vinyl. Only the two hopeless guys who work for him (Jack Black and Todd Luiso) make him feel like a grown-up by comparison. They sit around all day, getting rid of potential customers who are just not cool enough to be allowed to buy their records, endlessly ranking everything in the world. They hyper-critically rate everything except for their own sorry lives. His girlfriend Laura's departure prompts Rob to make a list of his five worst break-ups, which allows him to comfort himself that she is not even on the list. But as he tracks down the five on the list to see if he can figure out what went wrong, he begins to admit to himself that he is deeply wounded, and not just because he feels threatened and competitive at the thought of her new love interest (Tim Robbins). He has to allow himself to understand that "fantasies always seem really great because there aren't any problems," but that he needs to move on to reality.

Is it any good?

Rob spends more time talking to viewers than he does to any of the other characters in the movie, which is part of the problem. He asks the audience, "Do I listen to pop music because I was miserable, or am I miserable because I listen to pop music?" His candor and charm, both considerable, have allowed him to carry his adolescence through his 20s, and he's much more comfortable concocting the definitive list of the best side-one, track-one songs ever than he is thinking about, say, the definitive list of worthwhile things to do with his life. And he has to allow himself to be a little less self-obsessed. Fortunately, the "professional appreciator" is wise enough to see how special Laura is, and that he can't just "create a sketch of a decent, sensitive guy;" he can actually become one. Best for teens who like romantic dramas.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about relationship movies. How does this compare to other movies in which the lead character is single and trying to find a lasting relationship?

  • This movie was based on the novel by Nick Hornby. What would be the challenges in adapting a novel into a movie? 

  • How was music used throughout the movie -- to define the characters, drive the story, and heighten the movie's themes? 

Movie details

For kids who love music and romance

Our editors recommend

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

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 and learning potential.

Learn how we rate