King Kong (1976)



Bad script and acting ruin a classic story.
  • Review Date: September 21, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1976
  • Running Time: 134 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Stereotypical ditzy blonde and the men who shamelessly ogle her are worthy of a few winces.


Kong tears the jaw off a fake-looking giant snake. The shootout finale goes overboard on squirting blood.


Scantily clad natives thrust suggestively during a ritual. A fleeting glimpse of breasts. Kong's in love with his female hostage and, as hard as it is to believe, some of their scenes together are erotically charged.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that kids will see some sexually-charged scenes and violence. Scantily clad natives thrust suggestively during a ritual. We get a fleeting glimpse of breasts. Kong's in love with his female hostage and, as hard as it is to believe, some of their scenes together are erotically charged. Kong tears the jaw off a fake-looking giant snake. The shootout finale goes overboard on squirting blood.

What's the story?

An expedition to a mysterious fog-shrouded island turns up not fuel oil as Petrox emissary Fred Wilson (Charles Grodin) had hoped, but a giant ape, which only stowaway Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges) had anticipated. The ape, who the natives call Kong, falls for the crew's only female, Dwan (Jessica Lange), and stomps off with her. Not wanting to leave the island empty-handed, Wilson comes up with a scheme to capture Kong and use him as a Petrox promotional gimmick. They capture him and ship Kong to New York, where he breaks loose, nabs Dwan again, and shimmies to the top of the World Trade Center for the inevitable final showdown.

Is it any good?


Stars Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange do what they can to keep KING KONG afloat, but a hokey script and uneven effects nearly sink the boat they rode in on. The overblown love angle between Dwan and the giant monkey is laughable, with scenes of Kong leering at his little blonde handful, washing her in a waterfall, and blow-drying her with his hot simian breath. The scene in which Kong's giant unwieldy finger tries to peel her like a banana made the cover of TIME Magazine and helped make the movie a huge success. That Jessica Lange overcame this debut to become a serious actress is a testament to her strength.

By today's standards, the pacing and the effects are less than dramatic, certainly no match for Disney's Mighty Joe Young (another remake of a classic giant ape movie). Still, there's plenty here for young viewers to enjoy. They won't mind the tacky dialogue, or seeing Charles Grodin inexplicably cast as the unfunny villain who exploits Kong for money. Kids might even come away with an appreciation for the movie's vague environmental message, that rare animals should be treated sensitively, not paraded around in cages.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about monster movies. What's the fascination with seeing oversized, threatening monsters on screen? How is this one different from and the same as other monster movies you've seen? Is Kong scary -- or do you feel bad for him?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 17, 1976
DVD release date:July 27, 1999
Cast:Charles Grodin, Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange
Director:John Guillermin
Studio:Universal Pictures
Topics:Adventures, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Wild animals
Run time:134 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:Parental Guidance Suggested

This review of King Kong (1976) was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 10 years old March 20, 2011

Not Bad at all.

It wasn't that bad, in fact, I thought it was better than the 1933 classic. The only thing bad was all the blood coming out of Kong on the World Trade Center.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byParkerSmykle July 5, 2015
Adult Written bywhovian85 April 9, 2008

the hidious middle child

This is one of the most pathetic remakes ever. Unlike the original or the most recent remake there are no exciting dinosaur battles except Kong wrestling with what amounts to a glorified garden hose. Also the hero's were some of the biggest morons ever.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide