Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Tarantino's entertaining but violent movietown epic.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 161 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 48 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 55 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

No clear messages, but movie offers a chance to think about movies and history and the way movies can change the things that really happened. It also asks question of whether violence in movies and TV has any connection to real-life violence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No real role models, though characters are interesting, likable. But they're also frequently poorly behaved, drinking too much or having no real responsibility.


Extremely graphic, shocking violence in a few scenes. Guns are drawn and fired. A dog viciously attacks humans. A man smashes a woman's face into a wall over and over; gory, smashed face shown. Injured character screams maniacally, firing a gun into the air. One character repeatedly punches another, with profusely bleeding nose, blood spurting. Characters are burned with a flamethrower, both in a "movie" and in "life." Martial arts fighting, with a character thrown against a car. Dialogue about a man killing his wife. Struggling rat caught in a trap.


Scene at the Playboy Mansion shows women dressed up as Playboy bunnies. Revealing outfits. A young woman offers a man oral sex. Somewhat explicit sex-related talk.


Extremely strong, frequent language, including "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bulls--t," "c--k," "p---y," "poontang," "pr--k," "a--hole," "ass," "d--k," "goddamn," "hell," "loser," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). Racial slur "beaner."


Several vintage 1960s brands shown, more for flavor than for advertising: Wheaties, Velveeta, Wonder Bread, Kraft Mac & Cheese, a Champion T-shirt, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent social drinking, some secret drinking. Characters get drunk in more than one scene. A character wonders whether he's an alcoholic (he's unable to drive due to too many drunk-driving tickets). Near-constant cigarette smoking. Character smokes a cigarette dipped in LSD. He goes on a drug trip, but only his reactions are shown; the trip itself isn't shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood -- an intense crime movie written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Leonardo DiCaprioBrad Pitt, and Margot Robbie -- is set in 1969 and tangentially involves the Manson Family. As usual for Tarantino, there are scenes of extremely shocking, graphic violence, including a woman's face being smashed repeatedly against the wall, vicious dog attacks, characters getting burned by a flamethrower, punching, blood spurts, gun use, fighting, and more. Language is also very strong, with tons of uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "c--k," and more. There's somewhat explicit sex talk, a scene set at the Playboy Mansion, and scantily clad women. Characters drink and smoke tons of cigarettes (one tinged with acid), and one character wonders whether he might be an alcoholic. The movie is definitely mature, but it's also beautifully made, complex, funny, and smart, though it does mix up fact and fiction.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byStarstepper July 26, 2019

Good story despite gruesome scenes

The story takes place in the same time as the infamous Manson murders and plot hits along points relating to that real life story. If you (or your child) are di... Continue reading
Adult Written byLilttlelilac July 25, 2019

Great !!!

I think this is a great movie for anyone to watch. It’s a bit mature and has violence but is appropriate for teens and mature kids. It has some alcohol as most... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byFitz007 July 28, 2019
Teen, 15 years old Written byRamy February 9, 2021

Tarantino spins magic

It not for everyone. But if you can just appreciate the cinematic aura you will love it. Also, Tarantino might have intended this to be a satire for movie clich... Continue reading

What's the story?

In ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, it's 1969, and hard-drinking, fading cowboy/action star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) struggles with his career, trying to decide whether to continue playing bad guys in TV pilots or go to Italy to make Spaghetti Westerns. Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), Rick's longtime stuntman, is now largely unemployable and passes the time driving Rick around and taking care of Rick's home maintenance. Living next door is rising star Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), who recently married director Roman Polanski and is enjoying the response to her new movie, The Wrecking Crew. Trouble arises when Cliff picks up a hitchhiker (Margaret Qualley) and takes her to the Spahn Ranch, where the soon-to-be notorious Manson Family lives. And a terrible coincidence brings the cult members back to Hollywood.

Is it any good?

Quentin Tarantino returns, refreshed, with this funny, beautiful period piece, wrapping his story's loopy laces around movie lore and history, and mixing life and art into a cool, wild collage. With Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Tarantino returns to Los Angeles for the first time since the Kill Bill movies, and it appears to have recharged his batteries. The film feels excited by the way cinema is imprinted in Hollywood's streets, but also the way its connected/disconnected sprawl offers any number of cool, hidden stories at any given moment. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood moves beautifully and simply, following vintage cars as they blast 1960s-era pop tunes from tinny radios.

But the roads traveled weave together in complex ways, with real history and fake history crashing up against each other, combining into what can only be cinema. As usual, Tarantino also toys with violence, both imagined and real, both direct and indirect, subverting expectations. At the center, Robbie's Sharon Tate is a little underexplored, but she at least seems sweet and smart. Rick and Cliff, meanwhile, feel like old buddies, with a comfortable shorthand and warmth between them. The combination in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is epic, exhilarating, and wildly entertaining.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's violence. How did it make you feel? What does the movie have to say about violence in general, both in movies and in real life?

  • How are drinking, smoking, and drug use depicted? Are they glamorized? Are there realistic consequences? Why is that important?

  • What really happened to Sharon Tate and her friends? How does the movie change that? What is the movie saying about fact and fiction? History and movies?

  • How is sex portrayed? What values are imparted?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and drama

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