• Review Date: November 14, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1962
  • Running Time: 137 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters are very selfishly motivated and do not change.

Positive role models

No one you want your kids to emulate.

Violence

A shooting. A woman commits suicide by running in front of a bus.

Sex

Many veiled references to sexual relationship between an old man and a young girl. Nudity.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Character shown in drunken stupor.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie deals with an older man having a strong desire for a teen girl that leads to an affair. There is a shooting and a woman commits suicide by running in front of a car -- both are implied and off-screen.

What's the story?

Professor Humbert Humbert (James Mason) seeks a relaxing summer in the resort town of Ramsdale, New Hampshire, where he finds a room to rent in the house of a shrill, middle-aged widow, Charlotte Haze (Shelley Winters). He is immediately infatuated with her daughter, Lolita (Sue Lyon). Charlotte falls for Humbert, and he marries her to stay close to Lolita. When his new wife finds his diary containing his confession of love for Lolita, she commits suicide. Humbert pulls Lolita out of summer camp under the guise that her mother is sick and they need to return home. A long and somewhat tense road trip follows, where Humbert eventually seduces her and reveals the truth about her mother. Lolita, who had been enjoying his attention until this point, realizes the grave nature of her situation, and is forced to remain his concubine -- that is until a mysterious stranger pokes his nose in the affair, threatening to expose their illegal relationship to the world.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Peter Sellers turns in a great performance, as Clare Quilty. He takes on several different personas throughout the film to fool Humbert and gain access to Lolita -- a preview of his multiple roles in Kubrick's next film, Dr. Strangelove.

Translating a controversial novel like LOLITA to the big screen was an incredible feat in 1962. Director Stanley Kubrick, working from author Vladimir Nabokov's own screenplay, was able to convey the forbidden thoughts and actions of Humbert without upsetting censors. While the film isn't remembered as one of Kubrick's best, it's quite engaging and even surprising in its ability to make viewers sympathize with an ill-intentioned character like Humbert.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about representations of teen girl sexuality, from Lolita's sunglasses to Britney Spears' school girl uniform. Why do these images become popular in our culture? Do you think they are ever powerful -- or offensive?

  • In the end, is Lolita portayed as powerful or simply pathetic?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 12, 1962
DVD release date:June 12, 2001
Cast:James Mason, Shelley Winters, Sue Lyon
Director:Stanley Kubrick
Studio:Samuel Goldwyn Company
Genre:Drama
Run time:137 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Lolita 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 May 30, 2010

Boring

Just kinda boring,hard to get into.But just sexual refrences.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Kid, 11 years old May 7, 2015
Wow. “Classic love story”? “Seduced by a 14-year-old and led into her trap?” “Lolita being liked by older men is cool and my kids should be like that!” coming from ADULTS reviewing this? You do realize that Humbert was abusive and Dolores was just a kid who had no idea what she was doing right? Kids are supposed to be immature (trust me, I know this one) especially when they have their first crushes and it’s always the grown-ups job to say no and to do what’s right for her. I don’t care about his sob story or if she was flirty. Molesting her, taking complete control of her life, and taking her childhood is not love. It’s abuse. Lolita should not be seen as a role model because she's a "sex symbol" (she shouldn't be, come on, guys), but because she is a SURVIVOR. And the author of the book and his wife even said that themselves (Don’t believe me? Look it up). I’m really scared to be a young girl in this world because of people who think like this. My mom doesn’t let me go outside without her. Guys old enough to be my dad hit on me and talk to me like I’m a doll made for them, like I’m not even a person and then they try to say it’s okay because I’m a little bigger than most girls my age, so I must be “mature for my age” and because of my short dresses, I’m “asking for it”. I’m not the only one and it’s not fair that little girls who should be kids and living their lives without being harassed have to live like this (and it goes on to when they grow up too). Both versions of Lolita are great movies (the 1997 is better tho in my opinion because it does a better job at being true to the book and showing how toxic that relationship was for Lo, but it's more graphic obviously), but if you’re an adult and you don’t get the point, maybe you’re the one who needs to wait until you've grown up a little to watch them (or read the book, for the matter).
Teen, 15 years old Written bywho3697cares January 28, 2009
One of my least favorte Kubrick films. Don't get me wrong, I like it, but it is flawed by the studio cuts do to the nature of the film. It can be seen as a preview for his next dark comedy, Dr. Stangelove.

Poll

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

Family Media Agreement