Love Story Movie Poster Image

Love Story



Mega-hit of the 1970s isn't as powerful today.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 1970
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Although Jennifer supports Oliver in law school, she promptly gives up her musical aspirations to be a housewife as soon as he finds a job. Modern audiences may find the gender roles out of sync with the times.

Not applicable

A love scene.


Jennifer's dialogue is peppered with mild expletives.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that some of the dialogue is peppered with mild expletives. Although Jennifer supports Oliver in law school, she promptly gives up her musical aspirations to be a housewife as soon as he finds a job.

What's the story?

Radcliffe music major Jennifer Cavilleri (Ali McGraw) and Harvard man Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O'Neal) fall in love despite the differences in their backgrounds. Oliver is from an affluent WASP family while Jennifer grew up in her father's bakery in Rhode Island. Oliver is destined for Harvard Law School, while Jennifer's planning to study piano in Paris, but all of that changes when they announce their engagement. Unwilling to give in to his father's demand that they postpone their marriage, Oliver is cut off without a penny. Jennifer gives up music and takes a job as a teacher to support him while he's in law school. Her investment pays off when he graduates with honors and finds a well-paying job in New York. When Jennifer tries unsuccessfully to get pregnant, she's discovered to be terminally ill. She and Oliver spend their last days savoring every moment together.

Is it any good?


Although this corny reworking of Romeo and Juliet is almost saved by Ryan O'Neal's quietly smoldering charm, young viewers may be quick to hit the eject button. Jennifer's constant putdowns and continual sarcasm are so irritating that they undermine the plausibility of Oliver's love for her. Jennifer's illness and death is designed to evoke strong emotions, but viewers who can't get past her abrasive personality may have trouble summoning sympathy. However, sensitive teens may share in Oliver's intense feelings of loss and sadness.

Released in 1970, LOVE STORY was adapted from Erich Segal's best-selling novel and was equally popular onscreen. But the highly romanticized handling of Jennifer's death makes it unlikely to appeal to viewers today. Instead, audiences may cringe when they hear the famous line, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." These words were ubiquitous when this tearjerker was released, but their message hasn't aged particularly well.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how death and dying are portrayed in films. Was Jennifer's death portrayed realistically? Families who have experienced the dying and death of family member might compare that to the movie. Why do movie makers make death and dying either seem idyllic, as in this case, or gruesome, as in horror movies? Would you like to see movies that portray death realistically? Why or why not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 16, 1970
DVD/Streaming release date:April 24, 2001
Cast:Ali MacGraw, Ryan O'Neal, Tommy Lee Jones
Director:Arthur Hiller
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Topics:Book characters
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:language and a love scene

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old February 18, 2009

I love this film!

Although this film is very sad- it makes me cry everytime I watch it- it is also classic and beautiful. I could watch this film every week and still think it is amazing.
Educator and Parent of a 17 year old Written byhathaway99 May 19, 2010
This movie does have a sexual scene in it, where the two sleep together (not married) and it is quite a long scene. Checked the review and let my kids watch it, then got quite surprised by the scene. Just a warning for parents who are concerned about that kind of stuff.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviebuff8 April 9, 2008

Classic Tearjerker!

Love Story is the legendary tale of two polar opposites finding solace in eachother. I found this movie very appropriate for kids my age (I first saw it when I was 12, and loved it!). Evertime I watch it, I always find myself balling, however, I am an emotional person, so most people my age probably wouldn't have that problem. There really isn't anything objectable within the film, only a sex-scene and a little language. Five out of five stars!