Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Philadelphia Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Moving, Oscared '90s drama fostered AIDS empathy.
  • PG-13
  • 1993
  • 125 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 12 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

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."

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 March 30, 2015

AIDS drama has strong Hanks as the anchor

While the rest of this 90s movie is a bit predictable (and emotionally manipulative at the end), there is still no denying the strong acting power in Denzel Was... Continue reading
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.... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old April 27, 2016

Very meaningful gay movie.

Sex talk and a discussion of a porn theater and quite a bit of bad language, but a beautiful movie all in all.
Teen, 16 years old Written byBackAtYou June 20, 2020


This is a fantastic movie, about AIDs.Before you let your children watch this you have to let them know about AIDs.There is a bit of cussing in the movie includ... Continue reading

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?

Talk to your kids 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

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