Philadelphia Movie Poster Image




Moving, Oscared '90s drama fostered AIDS empathy.
  • Review Date: July 27, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1993
  • Running Time: 125 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The law firm partners lie, cover up their behavior, and attach Andy. Several characters also make derogatory comments about gay people, calling them "disgusting." But the film also humanizes people with a dreaded and stigmatized disease and has at its heart a message of love and acceptance of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or STD status.


Joe lunges at a man who comes on to him and threatens to attack him.


Andy and Miguel kiss briefly. A lot of talk about how STDs like HIV/AIDS are spread and the implication that Andy deserves it because he's gay. A visit to a gay porn theater is discussed.


Some salty language, including "bulls--t," "s--t," "goddamn," and "asshole." Several characters use anti-gay slurs, such as "queers" and "faggot."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The senior law firm partners smoke cigars and drink liquor. Andy smokes a cigar at a party. Joe hands out cigars and smokes one after the birth of his daughter. At a party, everyone drinks alcohol, but not to excess.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know there's considerable discussion about homosexuality and AIDS, as well as painful discussions of who "deserves" to get AIDS. For gay and sensitive viewers, this conversation can be especially triggering. Joe threatens to "kick your faggoty ass" when a man comes up and hits on him in a drug store. The film also shows Joe's wife giving birth and Tom Hanks' character surrounded by family as he passes away.

What's the story?

Attorney Andy Beckett (Tom Hanks) is rising up the ranks at his prestigious law firm. He balances court hearings, depositions, meetings with the partners, and calls from his mom. But he's also keeping two very big secrets: He's gay and he has AIDS. When Andy gets fired from his job a month after a lesion appears on his forehead, he sues his former employers. He hires black attorney Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) to represent him. Joe's prejudices against homosexuals begin to fade as he begins to see the bigger picture of discrimination. What ensues is a legal battle that puts the way America treats gay people with AIDS on trial, and finds us guilty.

Is it any good?


Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington give blockbuster performances in this intense drama with a timely and compelling plot. PHILADELPHIA asks the question of how we treat people who have sexually transmitted diseases, especially AIDS and especially when they're gay. The pacing and structure of the film are designed by director Jonathan Demme to treat the viewer as the jury. The arguments are taut and compelling. And Hanks' gaunt reserve and quiet despair as he loses his battle with the disease are mesmerizing.

Sure, the film is emotionally manipulative, but many great movies are. Yet Andy isn't allowed to be anything less than the patron saint of AIDS victims. What few dark secrets he has are brushed off with the supportive look of his family. Andy is masculine, loved by his family, his partner is accepted by everyone, and Andy is, of course, rich. One wonders how viewers would think of a gay AIDS patient who had been ostracized by his family, who was effeminate, who was poor, and maybe wasn't quite as perfect of a human being. Would he be any less deserving of respect and justice?

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about STDs and safe sex. Can you tell who has an STD and who doesn't just by looking at them? What do kids at your school think? Families can also talk about how they feel as a family about gay issues. Do you object when people use anti-gay language at school? Do you feel the way Joe does when people start accusing him of being gay because he represents Andy? Has the social climate changed for gay people and people with AIDS since this movie came out? How has it gotten better and how has it gotten worse? Which people in the public eye are "out" that you're aware of and how are they treated by the media? Do you think they have more pressure than straight famous people?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 23, 1993
DVD release date:September 3, 2002
Cast:Antonio Banderas, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks
Director:Jonathan Demme
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:125 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some graphic language and thematic material

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byilovefall10 October 28, 2010
such a great film... everyone should see it.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byhamstergurl09 March 30, 2013

A "Gay Movie" for Straight People

I'm a fan of Jonathan Demme and I have an interest in LGBT themes, so I decided to check this film out. This is powerful and emotional, and very well done. The trial scenes are particularly powerful and convincing. Homophobia and AIDS discrimination are huge themes in this film. This film raises the discussion of different AIDS victims being "guilty" or "innocent" (as in, was the disease transmitted through their sexual encounters or through something they couldn't control, like a blood transfusion) which is a sensitive topic and not brought up often in film. However, you can tell that the target audience is straight people, because the lives of gay people are not portrayed with great accuracy, and it sort of sugarcoats some things. At the time, this movie was considered a shift in the way LGBT people are portrayed in Hollywood, to being more realistic. But it feels kind of staged and fake in some parts, mostly the parts involving Andy Beckett's personal life. I also heard they cut out some scenes where Andy Beckett and his boyfriend Miguel were being more affectionate, including a scene where they were laying in bed together. They probably thought the straight audience couldn't handle that. By the standards of the time that this film came out, scenes involving gay people in this movie were much more accurate than other movies. Overall I enjoyed the film.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byMoviefan15 August 20, 2014

Excellent story of our fears and hope

Philadelphia contains some mature discussion of homosexuality and STDs. It contains a good message and should definitely be watched. Quite sad at the end which may frighten younger viewers.
What other families should know
Great messages


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