Want personalized picks that fit your family?
Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is an action film full of violence. Numerous fights take place with various weapons ranging from fists and razor wire to guns and knives. Many fights and standoffs end with characters dying in bloody and graphic ways. Tense scenes feature a character being tortured with dental equipment. A flashback sequence shows a young child discovering his father dead on the floor after having committed suicide. One nude sex scene takes place. Many characters use explicit language in anger and frustration.
What's the story?
Adapted from a best-selling novel by William Goldman, MARATHON MAN follows the story of a Columbia University graduate student who suddenly finds himself pursued by thugs and killers. Babe Levy (Dustin Hoffman) is still troubled by his father's suicide, when his brother Doc (Roy Scheider) comes to visit him. Shortly after arriving, Doc is stabbed to death by his paranoid employer, a hidden Nazi war criminal named Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier). Fearing that Doc may have told Babe about his precious stash of diamonds, Szell and his henchmen go after Babe using various tactics to get any information out of him. Soon Babe finds himself having to use aggressive tactics himself in order to protect himself and avenge his brother's death.
Is it any good?
Marathon Man has held up remarkably well in its ability to create suspense. Dustin Hoffman turns in a great performance, making his character's change from sheepish to gutsy seem quite plausible. Other performances are good, most notably Laurence Olivier's turn as Szell, (possibly one of the most despicable screen villains of all time).
Legend has it that the dental torture scenes were too much for some audiences to handle. With that said, this is not a film for the squeamish, but for those who enjoy great thrillers, this is a rare treat.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this film's representation of masculinity. How does Dustin Hoffman's character have to change in order to succeed? Can you think of other movies that require men to resort to violence to protect themselves or their families? What do you think of these portrayals?
For kids who love thrills
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
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.