Knowing Movie Poster Image

Knowing

(i)

 

Grim sci-fi thriller is too intense for young kids.
  • Review Date: March 18, 2009
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 122 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Positive role models

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
Not applicable
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.

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.).

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:March 20, 2009
DVD release date:July 7, 2009
Cast:Chandler Canterbury, Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne
Director:Alex Proyas
Studio:Summit Entertainment
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:122 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:disaster sequences, disturbing images, and brief strong language

This review of Knowing 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.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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

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 June 29, 2009

Beware of the Ending

I'm sorry, but I absolutely hated....... the ending. (I'll get to that later on in this review) Okay, so what I look for in a good movie is: -dialogue -actor choice -plot -ending So, audience is drawn in by all the numbers and predictions. Then, closing in at the end, Caleb is chosen. Okay, I'm a bit disappointed, maybe the dad will still survive. Then, he drives to his dad's house and huddles with them. It goes to a shot of the earth supposedly being destroyed. I was like, "Keep on going...." It goes to a scene where Caleb and that girl are on the world where they are now living. then the credits came, and I was like, "WHAT!??!!?! how could that be the end?" The good things were that it kept me in the whole movie, the cast, and the plot. The bad = the end. The end is a lot to me, so I'll have to give it 2 stars.....
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Parent of a 11 and 14 year old Written bySusanwr March 31, 2009
We saw this without reviewing first and it was absolutely TERRIBLE! We had to leave the theatre befor the end. my daughter was shaking with the spooky alien guys and catastrophe. There was not let up! This is a complete miss!
Parent of a 14 year old Written bytechiemom July 15, 2009

What a BOMB!

As we watched the beginning of the movie, my daughter and I felt slightly disturbed but convinced ourselves that the movie would get better. We have never been more wrong! We just sat on the couch and watched it spiral downward into the big finale that creeped us out and left us thinking about the new definition of "child catcher!" We would NOT recommend wasting your money OR TIME on this flop!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Poll

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