Parents' Guide to

Murder in the First

By Sarah Wenk, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Moving story of justice but too intense for kids.

Movie R 1995 122 minutes
Murder in the First Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

This drama is very interesting, but the many early scenes of torture and abuse, as well as those of Young's endless imprisonment in utter darkness and solitude, are very difficult to watch. They serve the story -- without some understanding of what he endured, it would be difficult to understand what is at stake in his trial. But nonetheless, they are very disturbing and upsetting to view.

Kevin Bacon is brilliant as Young, managing to convey his humanity even when he is most damaged by what was done to him. The courtroom drama is compelling, Slater is fine as a young, idealistic attorney, and Oldman is menacing and scary as the warden. The direction is rather flat and the soundtrack rather turgid, but if you can get past the torture scenes, the human drama is very touching and beautifully played. Families with older teenagers may find this an unusual and disturbing look at the prison system, but it's inappropriate for younger viewers.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: September 13, 1995
  • On DVD or streaming: September 13, 2003
  • Cast: Christian Slater, Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon
  • Director: Marc Rocco
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 122 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: scenes of extremely graphic violence and torture, strong language, and sexuality
  • Last updated: October 26, 2022

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