Parents' Guide to

Phenomenon

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Gentle tearjerker about sudden mental superpowers.

Movie PG 1996 117 minutes
Phenomenon Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 8+

Think it’s a good thought provoking movie although maybe too slow for some

Think it’s a good thought provoking movie although maybe too slow for some.
age 18+

bad

bad

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (4 ):

There are times when Phenomenon teases you that it's going to go deeper into science-fiction territory. Are UFOs involved? How about future time-travelers making people smart? Will George use his spooky talents to fight bad guys for the CIA? Instead, the script (which is on the long side) keeps things focused on the small-town society and down-home values -- and the contrast with the cosmopolitan "experts" from outside, who just see George as a test-tube subject. If anyone's an "alien," they are, in the sentimentalized view of village life.

The crucial question is Will George's old friends shun him because of his awesome brain power? Or will they accept what he says? There turns out to be a fairly earthbound reason (but still a tall tale, medically speaking) to explain George's amazing transformation, and it ends the movie on a heart-tugging note. It's a tearjerker, but an optimistic one, and Travolta is very effective, atypically cast as Joe Average.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

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