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Parents' Guide to

My Sister's Keeper

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Sad drama has heavy themes about illness, family.

Movie PG-13 2009 109 minutes
My Sister's Keeper Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 20 parent reviews

age 14+

We make choices in life every day, and you should make a choice and see this movie

(Synopsis) Sara (Cameron Diaz) and Brian Fitzgerald (Jason Patric) have just been informed that their young daughter Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) has leukemia, and that she only has a few years to live. The doctor suggests to the parents that they try an unorthodox medical procedure of producing another child in a test-tube that would be a perfect match as a donor for Kate. Sara will try anything to save Kate, and they have a new baby Anna (Abigail Breslin) to be used as a donor for Kate. The first thing they use is blood from the umbilical cord for Kate. As years go on, the doctors must take bone marrow from Anna to give to Kate. At age 11, the next thing Anna must give to her sister is a kidney. Anna has had enough of all of these medical procedures, and she decides to sue her parents for medical emancipation and the right to decide how her body will be used. The whole family is being torn apart by Anna's decision because everyone knows what will happen to Kate if she doesn't get a new kidney. (My Comment) Everyone knows from the movie trailer that the story is about a young girl who has cancer. You would think that it would be a depressing movie, but you would be wrong. It is a story of some of the choices we make in life. Having a test-tube baby as body parts for another child was a choice made by the parents. Anna wanting to stop giving her body to her sister was a choice. As with all choices, there are consequences. Kate will die without a new kidney. There are many very hard choices in life and in death that we must make, and this is a good movie to show you the way. Diaz as the pragmatic lawyer who was fighting to the very end for her daughter lost focus on life, and the rest of her family. I believe that this is Diaz's best part and performance as an actress. Sofia Vassilieva played Kate, who was in pain for most of her life. Sofia played Kate so well that you could see the helplessness in her eyes as she fights for her life. Anna was also part of this pain, and Abigail Breslin played this part as a professional. Actually, the whole cast was outstanding throughout the film. I loved the collaged scrapbook with voice-over and flashbacks that Kate made to give to her mother. This is a good movie to see with your loved ones. (New Line Cinema, Run Time 1:49, Rated PG-13) (10/10)

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
1 person found this helpful.
age 12+


This movie is a very serious and has intense themes. While generally appropriate, it may be concerning or slightly disturbing to young children. The plot of the movie is also based on a court case, so to understand what is going on the child may want to have basic understanding of the judicial system. There are graphic medical scenes (coughing up blood, a screaming girl being held down for a bone marrow asperation, etc), and some scenes where the mother and father are yelling at each other. There are also some brief scenes of drinking/drug use/suicide attempts, and sex, but they are not explicit and would likely go over the head of a younger child. Overall, if you want to have a good cry or spark discussion with your child, its a good movie to watch.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (20 ):
Kids say (75 ):

Based on Jodi Picoult's same-named novel, MY SISTER'S KEEPER is a bona fide tearjerker. Given the subject matter, how could it not be? Director Nick Cassavetes has coaxed amazing performances from his first-rate cast, including Diaz, who surprises with the strength of her rage and melancholy as a mother determined not to see her child die. And the film does well what many other dramas about illness don't: examine the toll that a prolonged sickness takes on everyone, not just the patient. The sibling relationships are especially nuanced; power imbalances are believably rendered right alongside deep familial love.

What keeps the film from achieving greatness is largely due to its structure. Characters tell their stories one at a time; it moves the plot along, but sometimes a little coercively. (There's a courtroom case embedded in the plotline, so the voiceovers do seem to make sense here. Nevertheless, they drain some of the power.) The movie tells you how to feel instead of taking you there.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: June 26, 2009
  • On DVD or streaming: November 17, 2009
  • Cast: Abigail Breslin , Cameron Diaz , Jason Patric
  • Director: Nick Cassavetes
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors, Latino actors
  • Studio: New Line
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 109 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: mature thematic content, some disturbing images, sensuality, language and brief teen drinking
  • Last updated: June 20, 2023

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