House of D

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
House of D Movie Poster Image
Off-putting drama of growing up male in the 1970s.
  • PG-13
  • 2005
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Though he gets points for being independent and resourceful in trying circumstances, the scamp of a young hero routinely lies to his mother, tricks teachers, and does both to take the heat off his wayward buddy. Oh and he...kills somebody.


One window broken.


Frequent discussion of sex and lust. Tom's mother has a disconcerting habit of using the bathroom while her son's in the shower.


Some pretty strong stuff for PG-13.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One peripheral figure is an alcoholic; another character chain-smokes and overdoses on sleeping pills; another one constantly asks for marijuana.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has locker-room talk of erections, masturbation, tricking the French teacher into saying English naughty words, and other matters in school; lurid family melodrama out of school, eventually encompassing robbery, suicide, and mercy-killing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKatSoleil May 25, 2020

The Circle of Life

This coming-of-age movie deals with tough subjects in a tender, but not starry eyed way. Watch it with your kids.
Subjects include independence, truth and hones... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old April 3, 2010
Teen, 15 years old Written bymad man April 9, 2008

What's the story?

HOUSE OF D follows the story of Tom Warshaw (played as an adult by David Duchovny), an artist living in Paris with his French wife and son. When he misses his son's 13th birthday, Tom flashes back on his own childhood in New York City. Young Tom (Anton Yelchin) goes on a scholarship to a Greenwich Village Catholic school. He seems to fit in well enough with his sex-crazed, smart-mouthed adolescent peers, despite that his fragile mother (Tea Leoni) is unable to cope after her husband's death. Tom befriends 41-year-old mentally-retarded school janitor Pappass (Robin Williams). He also has a crush on rich classmate Melissa (Zelda Williams), but teases her in front of his buddies. Outside of class Tommy befriends a black woman (Erykah Badu) locked in solitary -- but with a convenient open window -- in a nearby jail, the "house of D" (detention) of the title. They have one beautiful scene where she sings and Tommy dances alone outside; otherwise her advice on Melissa triggers a series of disasters for our hero: robbery, expulsion, suicide, euthanasia, teenage runaway-hood, and dressing in bad '70s fashions.

Is it any good?

Let's just say putting the letter D in the title was not the best grade for this would-be growing-up nostalgia. It's got enough jumbled-up, lurid melodrama for several plots. It's framed as sort of a love note of wisdom, maturity, and advice for Tom's son (although the sleeping kid doesn't have to hear all this. Alas, we do). If any of the film's tearjerking pathos were believable for a minute it would be, well, unbelievable.

Anton Yelchin doesn't look or talk like an idealized, movie-cute child star, so picking him to embody the awkwardly precocious Tommy is one small virtue. Oddly, there's a certain family resemblance, facially and in the contrived snappy banter, between him and Robin Williams, who gives an unconvincing portrayal as Pappass, with excessive mugging and doubletalk. It may be significant that the one family in the whole movie that looks intact and functional -- father, mother, child -- is that of that of the adult Tom, over in Paris. How he got to that state of contentment, after such a turbulent adolescence, might have made a more interesting story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how they think it's possible that Tom could end up having a healthy family dynamic after his dysfunctional upbringing.

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