A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Integrity and teamwork are important themes. The truth must be told, no matter how unpleasant or painful. Those who abuse their power must be brought to justice. Journalists play an important, necessary role in exposing what some might prefer to keep hidden.
Positive Role Models
The team works hard and tirelessly to arrive at the truth, and Robinson is accountable for having missed the boat on the story the first time.
Violence & Scariness
Fairly graphic descriptions of children being sexually molested and assaulted and suffering physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse. Some yelling in intense scenes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some spoken sexual references/terms. But, really, the only content in the film related to sex is violent in nature (details in "Violence" section).
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Language isn't constant but includes "a--hole," "s--t," and "f--k."
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Products & Purchases
A few brands/labels seen, including Toyota.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character smokes in one scene; in another, a man glimpses track marks (from drug use) on someone.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Spotlight chronicles the events leading up to the Boston Globe's trailblazing articles, published in 2002, about Boston priests abusing children -- and the perpetrators' superiors covering it up. It's an intense subject, and characters discuss the wrongs that were done to them with much pain and discomfort, which isn't easy to watch, but the movie ultimately offers valuable messages about the importance of exposing wrongs and making those who abuse their power accountable for their crimes. Expect some swearing (mostly "s--t") and verbal sexual references, loud arguing, and somewhat graphic (and definitely disturbing) accounts of kids being abused, as well as hints of their reliance on drugs and alcohol. Characters are also seen smoking. Under the CCPA law you have the right to protect your personal information. Make a Do Not Sell request to Spotlight. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Put simply, this drama will likely make journalists want to be better at their job and Catholics either quit or commit themselves to making the church do better. It's that thought-provoking. Told with few flourishes -- relying instead on fine storytelling, a strong script, and a deliberate-but-insistent pace -- Spotlight immediately feels timeless, telling an All the President's Men-like story with the same gravitas and intelligence as that classic.
Credit goes primarily to the stellar cast, a disciplined group that doesn't give into the usual over-acting that hobbles some "prestige movies." Kudos also to screenwriter Josh Singer, who has approached the subject matter with palpable care and empathy. Spotlight makes viewers think about how an unquestioning faith in institutions may not just be inadvisable, but devastating.
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.