Father and child sit together smiling while looking at a smart phone.

Want more recommendations for your family?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration

Parents' Guide to

Merchants of Doubt

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Docu raises important questions about media reliability.

Movie PG-13 2015 96 minutes
Merchants of Doubt Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

Merchants of doubt are dooming the human species to extinction

An excellent critique of advertising techniques and junk science.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Directed by Robert Kenner, of the excellent documentary Food, Inc., MERCHANTS OF DOUBT feels a little scattershot. It's as if it's unsure whether to stay focused on the topic of misdirection or dive directly into the immediate and pressing issue of climate change. When it is on topic, it's quite educational, illustrating just how people are hired for the purpose of misrepresenting data (or presenting false data) and how they cast doubt.

Kenner somehow scored fascinating interviews with some of these "fakers," who usually wouldn't agree to appear in a movie like this. Meanwhile, the featured scientists are less charismatic, if more straightforward in their interviews. (Many are shocked and saddened by this whole phenomenon.) And, as the topic moves over to climate change, the movie becomes more emotional and less analytical. But on the whole, it has a great deal of important information presented in a lively way, and it has the power to get you riled up.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: March 6, 2015
  • On DVD or streaming: July 7, 2015
  • Director: Robert Kenner
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Run time: 96 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: brief strong language
  • Last updated: April 4, 2023

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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.

See how we rate