Monster's Ball

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Monster's Ball Movie Poster Image
This brutal movie is for adults only.
  • R
  • 2002
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.


Brtual violence, excplicit execution, suicide, death of a child.


Very explicit sexual situations.


Very strong language, including racial epithets.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking and smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a brutal movie. It includes an explicit execution, a suicide by gunshot, the death of a child, and extremely explicit sexual situations, including prostitution. There are very disturbing family situations involving emotional and physical abuse. Characters use very strong language, and they drink and smoke.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysingle991 June 30, 2018

Monster' Ball

Monster's Ball is an adult film that deals with very serious and emotional subject matters. Sex: a very strong and long sex scene between the two main char... Continue reading
Parent Written byStepMomSterToo January 11, 2011


This is a gritty real-life movie. No good messages. There's violence, degrading racial references, an extremely vivid sex scene no one under the age of 21... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 13, 2021

Thought Provoking

I found this drama to be quite thought provoking. As a young person interested in film, I feel that it is important to know what life is about. This shows a sid... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bySkyrock5 June 4, 2011

Moving drama has the power to change views on life

The entire film revolves around sensitive and real issues in everyday life - racism, families and death sentences being the 3 main themes in this film. Unfortun... Continue reading

What's the story?

In MONSTER'S BALL, prison guard Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) clings to his hatred and racism as a way of distancing himself from his loneliness and misery. He throws two black boys off his property, even though they are friends of his son's. When his son (Heath Ledger), also a death row guard, gets sick while escorting a prisoner to execution, Hank brutally assaults him physically and emotionally. Although it is clear that it is Hank's own vulnerability and isolation that terrifies him, the attack and its aftermath are horrifying. Meanwhile, Leticia (Halle Berry), the condemned prisoner's wife, is desperate. Her son drowns his misery in candy and is very overweight. She loses her waitress job, her car breaks down, and she is about to lose her house. Hank and Leticia see their lives as hopelessly bleak, and they get worse as unspeakable tragedy strikes them both. In a way, the tragedy frees them. Having lost everything, there is no longer any reason to try to hold on to old notions and old fears.

Is it any good?

The artificiality of the plot is a distraction, at times seeming like a bizarre version of the old Hollywood imperative that the romantic couple has to "meet cute." But Thornton and Berry are magnificent. Berry deservedly won an Oscar for her brave and vulnerable performance. The dignity and poignancy of both performances is deeply moving. Sean Combs is outstanding in his brief appearance as Leticia's husband, demonstrating great dignity and a range of emotion as he prepares for his execution.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how people become racist and how we find help when we need it. Do you agree with what Hank decided about his father? What is Leticia thinking at the very end of the movie? What do you think will happen next?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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