Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Inception Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Intense, complex, brilliant sci-fi thriller is OK for teens.
  • PG-13
  • 2010
  • 148 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 91 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 281 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Amid the intense scenes and images, the movie offers positive examples of teamwork and helping others. A subplot involving death and grieving also promotes acceptance and moving on. A more ambiguous message is sent by the main story, in which the characters try to plant an idea in someone's head against his will -- but manage to bring him a kind of peace in the process.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character acts for personal reasons -- to earn the ability to return home to his kids -- and has a job that's slightly on the shady side. But when he's at work, his team shows excellent teamwork, as well as selflessness when it comes to their teammates' well being.


Though most of the movie's violence takes place in dreams and is therefore not "real," it includes guns and shooting, gunshot wounds with blood, fistfights, rioting, explosions, car chases, and car crashes. Characters scream in pain when shot or stabbed. In the movie, being "killed" or committing suicide can "wake" you out of the dream. One character is shot in the head, another is stabbed, and another plunges off a building to her death.


The main character pines for his dead wife, whom he still sees in his dreams. They share some intimate emotional moments, but there's no kissing, nudity, or sex. Two other characters share a brief kiss.


A few uses of exclamations like "goddamn it" and "Jesus Christ," as well as "hell," "ass," and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters drink wine, beer, and champagne, but no one overindulges.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this complex, original science-fiction fantasy movie from the director of The Dark Knight has lots of action and violence -- including guns, blood, fighting, car crashes, etc. -- as well as some slightly scary imagery. But it's very light on language, sexy stuff, and drinking, so teen fans of star Leonardo DiCaprio should be able to handle it. It's not an easy story to explain, but it's very easy to follow; parents and teens will likely want to talk at length about the story and may even find themselves wanting to go back for a second helping.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 13-year-old Written bynscharn55 March 18, 2020
Adult Written byMr. Charles February 18, 2020

one of the best

amazing action, brilliant writing, and some really good acting it has some violence
Teen, 13 years old Written by_________ January 1, 2017

Hard to follow

I think that you must watch the whole film without stopping or being distracted to fully understand it. It is hard to follow as they go into many dreams. I lov... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybrucewatts December 31, 2016

One of my favorite films

I first watched this movie when I was about 13, and it has been one of my favorites ever since. Featuring incredible writing, directing, cinematography, visual... Continue reading

What's the story?

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a skilled "extractor," able to enter people's dreams to find information. A businessman (Ken Watanabe) hires Cobb to plant an idea in the mind of a competitor, even though this may not be possible. Cobb assembles a team (which includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page) and prepares for the complicated job, which will require creating three dreams-within-dreams. Unfortunately, the subject (Cillian Murphy) has been trained for such invasions, and the job will be far more dangerous than planned -- and then there's the fact that Cobb's dead wife (Marion Cotillard) keeps unexpectedly turning up inside the dreams and wreaking havoc of her own. But if the team fails, they could end up trapped in a subconscious limbo forever.

Is it any good?

INCEPTION is an intense, complex story, but it's always coherent, imaginative, and entertaining. With only seven films under his belt, filmmaker Christopher Nolan has proven himself a master of time juggling; he rarely presents a story in chronological order. He often flips time or stacks time on top of itself, balancing several simultaneous storylines precariously, but with remarkable clarity.

That said, although Inception is a terrific film, it lacks a strong emotional connection with most of the characters -- the movie's roller coaster ride feel means that there's little time to stop and get to know anyone. Likewise, unlike Nolan's The Dark Knight, it doesn't really represent any current fears or desires, save for a vague fear of technology. It's really just a very intelligent, slam-bang popcorn movie. And that's absolutely fine.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the film's violence. How did it affect you? Was it thrilling? Did the fact that it takes place in a dream give it more or less impact?

  • Was the movie scary? If so, what made it scary?

  • Why is it important to dream? What do your dreams tell you? Is it right to plant an idea in a person's head, even if that idea makes the person happy?

Movie details

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