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

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 96 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 320 reviews

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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  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 "goddamn it" and "Jesus Christ," as well as "hell," "ass," "a--hole," "bloody," "bastard," "screw," and "damn." Partial use of "f--k."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters drink wine, beer, and champagne, but not to excess.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Inception is a complex, original science-fiction fantasy movie from the director of The Dark Knight. It 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 ("goddamn" and "a--hole" are as strong as it gets), 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, and it includes positive examples of teamwork. 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byApersonthatdoes... March 8, 2021


Violence 3.5/5
Sex 0/5
Language 2.5/5
Drinking/Drugs/Smoking 0.5/5
Adult Written byJackBauer October 20, 2020

Great Movie With A Great Cast!!!!!

Inception has lots of violence, but no blood is shown. Suicide scenes, although nothing is shown, are used quite a lot in the movie (to wake up from dreams). Th... 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
Teen, 15 years old Written byMike Owen July 22, 2019

"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling." Well, clearly, Nolan took that advice.

need not be brainless. Christopher Nolan manages to explore not one, but Inception is clear proof that big blockbustersa number of intriguing ideas with surpris... Continue reading

What's the story?

In INCEPTION, 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 Elliot 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. 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 Inception'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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