excellent family movie
I took my nine year old daughter to see this. (She also wrote a review.) She's a big fan of biographies about incredible women, and she's a big RBG fan already. For comparison, we also saw RBG together; she absolutely loved the first half of that one (the growing-up and coming-of-age details about RBG's life), though the second half, which was pretty heavy with the legal and political aspects of RBG's life, was a little less compelling for her. On the Basis of Sex did, obviously, involve a lot of details about politics and history, though compared to RBG, I think it was easier for her to follow and be compelled by, since the film was told as one story, as opposed to documentary.
I assume that the 12+ rating Common Sense Media give this is more related to the content of the story than level of "appropriateness." (In general, I find CSM's age ratings to be spot on for my kids' ages--but that usually involves a question of how scary or appropriate the material is.) On the Basis of Sex does have some cursing: a single use of the word f***ing for emphasis (I forget the exact line, but something like, "Do you want to f***ing win or not?") and a number of a-holes and so forth--but frankly, nothing my 9 year old hasn't heard plenty of times. There was one scene where Ruth and her husband get intimate--all they show is her in a bra and slip (super conservative--almost no skin visible), them kissing, as he picks her up and they head toward the bed; then, the scene fades. My nine year old is very sensitive about seeing typical sexual content, even on TV or in ads, but neither of us really minded this much. (Honestly, I think maybe it's the kind of thing a young kid SHOULD see, if that makes any sense, especially to counter the INappropriate material they are inevitably exposed to. After all, it's a married couple, in a spectacularly loving and healthy relationship, sharing an intimate moment. And again, the scene fades before they even make it to the bed.) So, other than the cursing, it feels very PG to me. I wouldn't hesitate to let even a 7 or 8 year old to see it--though I don't think an 8 year old would likely be very interested. I'd say it would appeal to many 11 and ups. Jane, Ruth's teenaged daughter, has a fairly prominent role, which amps up the appeal to tweens and teens.
The film is a tad Hollywood--dramatizing some things for the sake of the story (which is fine; it works). Personally, I might have liked it to be longer and more inclusive of more of the fascinating details of her life and work. But ultimately, I think it is a terrific and important and incredibly inspiring film for all families to see together--including the men and boys!! The film is as much a story about Ruth and Marty's loving and equal relationship as it is about her career. (He's the cook in the family and a very present dad, and his support of his wife is unwavering without being condescending.) Plus, the film does a very good job putting the start of the legal fight for women's rights in a historical context, illustrating what it meant (and still means) for women to NOT be treated as equals in the eyes of society or the law.
Go see it! And take your men and boys!