Innovative thriller has a mature premise, edgy content.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: November 3, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 116 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main character is wholly motivated by vengeance.

Positive role models

Characters drink, smoke, steal, lie to one another, sell drugs, and commit murders.


The actions depicted in the film are set into motion by the rape and murder of Leonard's wife. Leonard is motivated solely by his desire to find and execute the man he believes killed her. Blood and fighting are seen.


Lots of bare-chested shots of the main character, plus one glimpse of his naked rear end.


Many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "c--t" and more.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The film deals extensively with drug deals, although the only drug use actually shown is a woman who snorted something that was probably cocaine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Memento follows the efforts of a man to avenge the rape and murder of his wife. Throughout the film, Leonard is motivated solely by his desire to find and execute the man he believes killed her. Characters drink, smoke, steal, lie to one another, sell drugs and commit murders. This isn't a film that most viewers will be able to absorb easily: The plot is relayed in a jumbled fashion, as Leonard suffers from short-term memory lost, and the audience primarily relies on him for information. Expect strong language, some blood and fighting, and a dark/mature feel.

What's the story?

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) wakes up one night to find his wife missing from their bed. When he goes looking for her, he interrupts a man in the process of sexually assaulting her in the bathroom. Leonard suffers a blow to the head which destroys his short-term memory. The last thing he remembers is his wife dying, and he is bent on revenge. Without a short-term memory to guide him, Leonard relies on Polaroids, notes, and daily tattoos to assist him in closing in on his wife's killer.

Is it any good?


When first released in 2000, MEMENTO made quite a splash. The film's narrative is far from traditional, and the movie is definitely aimed at an audience with a high level of visual literacy. The story is relayed in fragments, echoing Leonard's experience of short-term memory loss.

For many viewers, the film will be something of a head-scratcher, the kind of thing that bears a few repeat viewing and a lot of furrowed brows. Director Christopher Nolan's sparse style plays well here. The plot is complex enough on its own, and the film rests largely on the strong performances of the major characters.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Memento's unorthodox storytelling. Did you find the different style here engaging -- or just confusing?

  • Why don't more movies take risks like this one? Can you think other stories -- movies, books, etc. -- that unfold in non-linear ways?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 16, 2001
DVD release date:April 2, 2002
Cast:Carrie-Anne Moss, Guy Pearce, Joe Pantoliano
Director:Christopher Nolan
Studio:Sony Pictures
Run time:116 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, language, and some drug content.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byarkguy July 6, 2010
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byeastside01 August 19, 2009


Memento is Guy Pierce's best performance so far in his career as he will stop at nothing to find the murderer who killed his wife. Great movie and acting.
Adult Written bysarahkay89 November 6, 2010

Not for kids

*Extremely frequent and inappropriate language. *Lots of violence. *Very interesting plot/storyline...for adults, not kids/teens
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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