Slumdog Millionaire

Movie review by
James Rocchi, Common Sense Media
Slumdog Millionaire Movie Poster Image
Epic romance-drama is brilliant but too mature for kids.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 120 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 36 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 91 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

Modern-day India is depicted as a complex, rich culture of wonderful opportunity and yet terrifying poverty. Police forces are depicted as brutal, but they ultimately do the right thing. Criminal, greedy, and venal behavior is depicted -- and not always punished.

Positive role models & representations

Through brains, principles, and decency, the lead character achieves in the face of poverty, prejudice, and evil. He demonstrates perseverance and integrity.

Violence

Strong violence; the lead character is beaten, drowned, and electrically shocked by authorities in order to elicit a confession; a depiction of a religious riot includes beatings, on-screen deaths, and men being set ablaze. A young child shoots a man in a clear kill-or-be-killed situation. A young boy is blinded with hot oil to increase his value as a beggar. A woman's face is deliberately scarred with a knife. Fist fighting and other shooting deaths.

Sex

A supporting character is being taught courtesan's skills before being sold into sex slavery (at a high price due to her status as a virgin); some kissing; implied semi-sexual activity between a pre-teen boy and girl. Non-sexual nudity (a child's buttocks are seen).

Language

Strong, including "s--t," "hell," "damn," "crap," "piss," "bugger," "p---y," and non-sexual uses of "f---ing."

Consumerism

The plot revolves around the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Constant smoking; characters (in some cases even very young children) drink hard liquor.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that despite incidents of violence and cruelty, Slumdog Millionaire is a sweeping, thrilling drama that mature teens will be able to take -- and will probably very much enjoy. There's some extreme violence -- electrocution, murder, and violence perpetrated by, and on, young children -- but it never feels exploitative or simplistic. The film revolves around issues of class (how could a poor "slumdog" like the lead character possibly do so well on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?). and includes many images of modern India, including real -- but still hard-to-take -- depictions of poverty and hopelessness.

User Reviews

Parent of a 10 and 15 year old Written byCarolS March 2, 2009

R Rating is Appropriate!

This movie is very violent and disturbing. I found the Commonsense review to be misleading in terms of the level of violence so I was shocked when I viewed the... Continue reading
Parent of an infant, 4, 6, 11, 14, and 17 year old Written byjuditupp November 22, 2009

This is only appropriate for the older kids and parents should pre-screen.

This movie was really good! The musical portions were a little campy but that's standard Bollywood. No matter how old your kids are this is one that shou... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMr. Critic April 19, 2011

Amazing film is inspiring, but too mature for younger children.

Slumdog Millionaire is a powerful story about true love, and its struggles. The film is absolutely beautiful, and entertaining. And if you haven't seen it... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 21, 2009

A Movie You Can't Miss

by far the best movie ive ever seen! i watched it with my mom and just stopped looking when it got too disturbing (beggar camp blinding the boy). the ending was... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, Jamal (Dev Patel) is an 18-year-old tea service worker for a telecommunications company who has somehow managed to make it to the second-to-last question on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? He's dragged in for questioning by the police, who want to know how he's cheating -- which, in their eyes, is the only way an uneducated boy from the slums like him could possibly be winning. Beaten but unbowed, Jamal tells his interrogators stories from his life that explain why he knows the answers. He also talks about the long-lost love of his life, Latika (Freida Pinto), who he's trying to get in touch with and save through the unlikely mechanism of being on the show.

Is it any good?

Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Millions), this is a bold, big, and beautiful film. It's a rich, gripping tale of heroism, struggle, true love, and unfailing friendship set in the rough-and-tumble world of modern India. Based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup, Slumdog Millionaire combines the heady, energetic, and inspired direction of Boyle's earlier films with the heart and humanity of his lesser-known, more recent films; the end result is a knockout of a film. Slumdog Millionaire has the feel and structure of a great Dickensian adventure combined with a bracing, modern look at life in 21st-century India -- and brilliant performances as well. Patel shines as the honest, striving, good-hearted Jamal, while Pinto gets to be far more than just "the girl." Co-star Irfan Khan (whom you may recognize from A Mighty Heart) is also excellent as the police detective who ultimately comes around to standing by Jamal as he tells his story, and Anil Kapoor is terrific as the charming, bullying game show host.

Slumdog Millionaire features some rough stuff -- violence, poverty, exploitation -- but at the same time it has a heart and humanity that shine through even in its darkest moments. And when the finale unfolds, it feels truly earned considering all that's gone before. Slumdog Millionaire may seem a little tough to get into at first with its blunt depiction of the cruelty of life and the switches between English and Hindi throughout the film, but it unfolds like a plain-spoken thing of wonder; it's easily one of the best films of 2008.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Discuss the nature of Indian society -- from class to religious conflict to the nation's role as a growing economic superpower -- and about the way Slumdog Millionaire depicts hard work, good morals, and quick wits. Are they seen as virtues?

  • What are the differences -- and similarities -- between Indian culture and American culture. How are they different? What do they have in common?

  • What does the movie say about the growing process of globalization? What does it mean when British customer service calls are answered in India? Or when an English game show becomes immensely popular in a completely different nation?

  • How does Jamal demonstrate perseverance and integrity in Slumdog Millionaire? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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