Shattered Glass

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Shattered Glass Movie Poster Image
Journalistic scandal story best for older teens.
  • PG-13
  • 2003
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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


Tense scenes, including a suicide threat.


Reference to prostitutes.


Some strong language.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking, smoking, reference to drug use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has some strong language and references to drug use and prostitutes. There are tense and upsetting scenes, including a suicide threat.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMarissa N. January 24, 2017

Stephen Glass review

Stephen Glass is a great movie overall, It is about a charming young man who turns out to be quite a liar. His stories are amazing but they turn out to be not... Continue reading
Adult Written byJon Lovitz May 20, 2009


This movie was scary. But I think its fine for preteens and up, they can handle it.
Teen, 17 years old Written byBestPicture1996 June 27, 2013

As a journalist, it hits home

I watched this in a journalism camp for high schoolers, and that's probably the best age for your kids to see it. Along with strong language here and there... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bySynchronicity May 31, 2010

When the glass is broken, the flames have already started. Should be viewed by pretty much everyone over 13

From the New Republic: "Ian Restil, a 15-year-old computer hacker who looks like an even more adolescent version of Bill Gates, is throwing a tantrum.... Continue reading

What's the story?

SHATTERED GLASS is the story of one of the biggest scandals in the history of journalism. In 1998, the editor of the tiny but prestigious New Republic found that star writer Stephen Glass had fabricated dozens of stories. The publication's youngest writer, Glass (Hayden Christensen) dazzles everyone with charming compliments and self-deprecation. We know from the beginning that Glass lied, and the movie has enough respect for the complexity of human motivation not to try to explain why. So, it is a story of how the lie was uncovered, but it is less a detective story or even a rise-and-fall hubris tale than a story about how, in the end, journalism really is about telling the truth. An editor for a small, far-from-prestigious website tosses Glass's story about a teenage hacker to Adam Penenberg (Steve Zahn), one of his reporters, asking why he didn't get that story himself. Penenberg begins to dig and finds out that only one fact in the Glass story checks out: "There does seem to be a state in the union named Nevada." Glass and Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard), his editor, find out what it is like to be under the microscope instead of peering through it.

Is it any good?

Christensen does a decent job, though we are never as charmed by Glass as his colleagues at The New Republic. Although the movie's introduction makes it clear that Glass is a liar, screenwriter/director Billy Ray (Hart's War) manages to keep us unsettled by not always letting us know what is real and what is imagined by Glass.

Maybe it is just being forewarned that makes Glass seem less ingratiating than just grating. Ray has a good feel for the culture and atmosphere of the community of Washington journalists -- overworked, underpaid, and a little too smart and inbred. There are splendid performances by Sarsgaard, Zahn, and especially Hank Azaria as the late Michael Kelly.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Glass lied and why people wanted to believe him.

Movie details

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