Knowing

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Knowing Movie Poster Image
Grim sci-fi thriller is too intense for young kids.
  • PG-13
  • 2009
  • 122 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 44 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 99 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Single parents are shown as loving, concerned, and trustworthy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Wracked by grief after the recent death of a loved one, a leading character abuses alcohol on a nightly basis.

Violence

Harrowing accidents are shown in great detail. A plane crashes into a crowded freeway, with bodies, fires, and injuries everywhere; a train speeds out-of-control through New York's Subway system, inflicting destruction, death, and injury. Children are often in grave danger -- from accidents, scary strangers lurking, fire, abduction, and many major events over which they have no control. One little girl is shown bloodied and on the brink of madness in an early scene. Burning animals flee from a fire (one is shown in a disturbing close up).

Sex
Language

Cursing includes "dammit," "hell," "s--t ," and "oh my God."

Consumerism

A scene set in a convenience store shows Pepsi and other products. One Sabrett's hot dog stand is prominently seen on an NYC sidewalk.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An otherwise principled character frequently drinks to excess when depressed.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this grim sci-fi thriller is about global catastrophe and disaster, which could be very upsetting for kids. There are scary presences, spooky music, dead parents, and children in danger throughout the movie, and it really stretches the PG-13 rating in terms of depicting horrifying disasters (a monumental plane crash injures and kills scores of people, an out-of-control subway train smashes into a crowded station, etc.). Animals are seen burning as they flee from a massive fire. A main character also drinks to excess on a number of occasions, and there's some language ("s--t," "damn," etc.).

Wondering if Knowing is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTy M. November 17, 2017

Mind blow

This movie is just amazing , whoever downgraded the movie needs to be severely educated, just because you got spooked does not mean it is a bed movie. This movi... Continue reading
Parent of a 14-year-old Written byTsion November 15, 2009

Engaging and Thought-Provoking...but Immensely Harrowing and Disturbing!

KNOWING is a fine film that is as good a thriller as it could be, and an engaging thinker as well. However, often it borders on pure horror. The film tells of... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 28, 2020

Not very scary at all, but that's not the point of the movie.

I loved this movie! It was amazing. There are a few questionable scenes with people being burnt alive and creepy girls scratching their bloodied fingernails int... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySomekidwatchesmovies April 13, 2020

Probably OK for 10 and up, its just 2 scenes which are very disturbing

This was a great movie, i like suspense, disaster and mystery so this movie was perfect. The most disturbing scene in the movie is where a girl is seen scratchi... Continue reading

What's the story?

When a time capsule buried by an elementary school class in 1959 is dug up in 2009, one little girl's strange, unsettling entry -- a paper filled with hundreds of random numbers -- finds its way into the hands of single dad/astrophysicist John Koestler (Nicolas Cage) and his son, Caleb (Chandler Canterbury). John soon determines that the numbers aren't random at all: They actually reveal a prophetic listing of all the major catastrophies on earth since 1959 -- and, even more frightening, disasters in the immediate future. Is it coincidence or part of a grand plan? Fear and panic escalate as John, working with the daughter (Rose Byrne) of the now-dead little girl who foresaw it all, tries to stop the inevitable.

Is it any good?

KNOWING wants to be a lot of things, but logical isn't one of them. From early in the movie when John lectures his M.I.T. students about randomism vs. determinism (unsubtly setting the stage for what's to come and also sounding like he's talking to a seventh grade class) to the final moments when Earth's very survival is at stake, style and action take precedence over coherence.

The characters never behave in a rational way, instead serving only to move the story from one harrowing event to another. In its desire to cover such major issues as humankind's frailty in the face of nature, religion, parenting, and even a glimmer of hope for the future, the film loses its way amid showy special effects, thinly drawn characters, and lack of plausibility. Dark City, an early Alex Proyas movie, was far more successful at giving life to the science-fiction genre.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the movie creates suspense. Would it be as spooky or scary without the music, close-up shots, or shadows?

  • Parents, if the movie's end-of-the-world subject matter upsets your kids, be sure to address their fears.

  • And on a lighter note, you can also discuss what you'd put in a time capsule to represent your life.

Movie details

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

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

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.

Learn how we rate