The 11th Hour

  • Review Date: April 6, 2008
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

Common Sense Media says

DiCaprio headlines talky global warming docu.
  • Review Date: April 6, 2008
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 90 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Testimonials from eloquent, sincere, intelligent experts, advocating respect for the planet.


Some shots of environmental devastation: floods, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes. These shots are general, with only a few faces visible, but they might upset younger viewers.

Not applicable
Not applicable

Mentions or brief images of Exxon Mobil, Mountain Dew.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this environmental documentary is very talky, tweens and teens may be interested thanks to producer/star Leonardo DiCaprio. The film addresses some complicated issues in language that may go over younger kids' heads. It also includes repeated, potentially upsetting images of environmental disasters and their aftermath, including floods (Katrina, Europe), wildfires, earthquakes, melting ice caps, endangered furry animals, and impoverished human populations.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

THE 11TH HOUR opens with news footage of wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes intercut with clips of insects scuttling, activists protesting, and hazmat officials swarming. Amid the commotion, journalist Kenny Ausubel considers the complex relationship between "human society and nature." It's no longer a question that we must save the environment, he says. Otherwise, "We're the ones who may not survive." Organized into sections introduced by Leonardo DiCaprio (who is also the film's producer), interviewees describe "what makes us human" -- that is, what makes us both like and unlike the other beings with whom we share the planet. They raise not only questions of responsibility but also historical situation. As psychologist James Hillman asserts, the notion that we are "separate from nature is in itself a thinking disorder." The film traces how the planet ended up in its current state and proposes some possible responses. Among them: buildings might be ecologically designed, fossil fuel companies might get on board and still turn a profit with new technologies, and individuals might use ecologically sound light bulbs. Making the crisis less abstract and gargantuan, proposals like these ask consumers to understand themselves in relation to the environment.

Is it any good?


It's an important documentary in various senses -- not the least of which is its comprehension and exploitation of celebrity politics. The sheer number of talking heads is daunting (directors Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners interviewed some 70 people over 150 hours), and their arrangement into a series of connected storylines is persuasive. Eschewing the personal plot that Gore offered in An Inconvenient Truth, The 11th Hour instead makes a case for the interconnectedness of human interests with nature, over time and across continents.

Arriving in theaters just after Newsweek's cover story "The Truth about Denial" (as well as a response from its critics), the film doesn't so much argue against naysayers as presume the green truth, at once heartfelt and rational, polished and urgent. Still, opponents contend that celebrity involvement can undermine the environmentalists' causes. For example, even as the Live Earth concerts on July 7, 2007, drew attention to global warming, it also jumpstarted reunion tours by the Police and Smashing Pumpkins. This doubled effect isn't hypocritical, per se, but it is inescapable. Debates over policy, resources, and money are and will be shaped by campaigns, images, and celebrities -- whether elected, appointed, or signed to huge contracts. The 11th Hour understands that and makes its case accordingly.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the debate over global warming, and whether it results from human excesses or inevitable natural changes. Is the debate purely environmental, or are there political and social aspects, too? Does DiCaprio's involvement in the film make you more or less inclined to believe what it says? Why? What do you think of the film's proposal that we can all contribute to fighting global warming? What sorts of things can individuals do? Where could you go for more information on the topics the film brings up?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 16, 2007
DVD release date:April 7, 2008
Cast:Kenny Ausubel, Leonardo DiCaprio, Thom Hartmann
Director:Leila Connors Petersen
Studio:Warner Independent
Topics:Science and nature
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some mild disturbing images and thematic elements.

This review of The 11th Hour was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 10 years old December 31, 2008
Adult Written byelaine4real April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Parent Written byduder12 November 4, 2013

Scary but real and amazing message

I don't want to shield my kids from the important messages. I don't think there is currently a better movie out there about the topic. In particular, the concept that humans ARE the environment is so important for the next generation to start internalizing now. It's ok for 7 and older but you'll need to discuss with your kids afterwards to make sure they got the takeaway.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass