A quality film of suspense and manipulation.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: August 29, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 1990
  • Running Time: 107 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The sociopathic main character carries out terrifying acts of violence and kidnapping.


The film begins with a terrible car accident and shows the resulting wounds. It revolves around a kidnapping and the ensuing torture.

Not applicable

Very little profane language, but one obscene finger gesture and several odd euphemisms for swear words.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The kidnapper repeatedly drugs her victim.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is highly violent. There are continuing acts of torture, repeated graphic and sadistic acts; kidnapping, bondage, broken bones and overall deception. Even mature teenagers may find this film highly upsetting.

What's the story?

Based on Stephen King's novel of the same name, MISERY details the unfortunate exploits of a romance novelist (James Caan) and his obsessively sadistic "number one fan," Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). Upon rescuing the writer from a snowy car crash, Wilkes uses extreme measures to keep the object of her admiration at arm's length.

Is it any good?


Powerfully filmed, Misery grips the audience and presents a fascinating character study in psychosis. The truly in-your-face violence may prove to be too much for many adults and teens alike. Do not let the credits lure you into a false sense of security. Despite the inclusion of seemingly family-friendly names such as Rob Reiner (Stand by Me, The Princess Bride) and Kathy Bates (Fried Green Tomatoes, Primary Colors), you will find no warm fuzzy moments in this film as the story is filled with physical and emotional torture (including one of the most wince-worthy moments of film.

The film presents a sadistic story of manipulation and torture as Annie struggles to preserve her favorite literary character by torturing its creator. Misery reeks with tension and suspense from beginning to end, as the fate of the writer appears darker and darker. Ultimately, the film culminates in a gruesome battle of wits and will. Watch out for the "hobbling" scene). Nonetheless, Misery did bring Bates critical acclaim and her first Oscar. The film also includes charming performances by Richard Farnsworth and Frances Sternhagen as the small-town sheriff and deputy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how they feel about the violence in the movie. They can also use the movie as a basis for discussing safety and protecting themselves from strangers.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 30, 1990
DVD release date:December 22, 1998
Cast:James Caan, Kathy Bates, Lauren Bacall
Director:Rob Reiner
Run time:107 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence

This review of Misery 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.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

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

  • Stephen King's disturbing prom horror classic.
  • Creepy suspense/horror film. Older teens plus.

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

Parent of a 14 year old Written byMarvin Martian February 18, 2011

10-13 don't watch alone

I would rate it 12-15. One bit very disturbing (hammer scene), but rest fine, some strong language, and mild drugs
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byBKrootz March 21, 2011
Loved it. Very intense and creepy. It does use some language (said and visual), and there is a very painful-looking violent scene. The title of the movie describes it... it is merserable to watch. But that is what makes it so good. recommend entirely.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written bydavyborn October 16, 2011

Kathy Bates performance is fantastic, but could have potential for scarring and nightmares with children

I have actually read the Stephen King novel "Misery", which the classic movie of the same name was based on, and let me tell you, it follows it well, and I mean, well. It keeps all of the suspense of the novel, and than extends the creepiness to a much higher level with Kathy bates absolutely incredible and very, very creepy academy-award winning portrayal of the ultra-obsessed number one fan, Annie Wilkes. Really, there isn't a single doubt in my about her winning that Oscar for her performance in the movie. It really is the stuff of great actors, and only great actors alone could be able to achieve this level of tension and uncomfortableness at such a immediate level. But, as great as this movie is, it it certainly not for tween's or even some older teens, and make no mistake , this is a very solidly R Rated movie, because of such intense situations alone, but also because Kathy Bates performance is so disturbing and that there is so much strong violence at the end of the movie with her and James Caan virtually bashing each others heads in. Also, there is very infrequent but strong profanity with 1 spoken f-Word and 7 other F-words typed out on a piece of paper on a type writer. Well, that's all I have to say about this classic, expect for one last little thing: See it if you honestly haven't already done so yet!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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

Star Wars Guide