The Adjustment Bureau

  • Review Date: March 1, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 99 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Sci-fi/romance hybrid mixes plot twists, serious themes.
  • Review Date: March 1, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 99 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie asks a big question: Do we control our own destinies, or is our fate predetermined? Here, it’s made clear that free will is a myth and that there is indeed a master plan for humanity -- and that people who stray from the path that's been set for them will face dire consequences.

Positive role models

David Norris seems to be living a charmed life as a rising star in politics, but he’s willing to give it all up for love.

Violence

Some extended, frantic chase scenes, a few fistfights, and one shocking car accident.

Sex

Some kissing, and one love scene (but no nudity).

Language

Occasional swearing includes a couple of uses of "f--k" and several “s--t"s, plus “bulls--t," "hell," "ass," "damn," "goddamn," and more.

Consumerism

A Nationwide billboard is shown several times. Damon's character has an iPod.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some scenes feature people drinking beers in bars.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this twist romance wrapped up in a sci-fi thriller tackles some complicated themes -- i.e. who controls our fate? -- that might be too overwhelming for tweens and younger. The way the movie addresses them is also pretty tricky to follow, though it’s sure to spur some mind-bending questions. Expect some swearing (including "s--t" and "f--k") and a few scenes with drinking, as well as one relatively tame love scene. There are also tense chase sequences, fistfights, and a shocking car accident.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

On the night that his bid for senator of New York fails, irreverent candidate David Norris (Matt Damon) takes on more than he bargained for when he meets Elise (Emily Blunt), a modern dancer he thinks may be the love of his life. But at the same time, he also discovers that the world is run according to a master plan dictated by a mysterious “chairman,” who deploys suited and fedora-hatted men to make sure adjustments are made (hence the title of the movie) so no one strays too far from preordained arrangements. David, in meeting Elise, has strayed. He’s not meant to run into her. But love is messy and can’t be tamed in this film inspired by a Philip K. Dick story, and David won’t give up until he get what he wants: a happily ever after.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This strange hybrid of a movie -- part Bourne Identity, part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and part Romeo and Juliet (yes, it’s that knotty) -- certainly isn't perfect. To start, inconsistencies abound: Why does David’s watcher come to his aid? Is the chairman God? And the suit-and-hat men are too amorphous. There's also some genre confusion; the movie sells itself, especially in the first act, as a suspenseful thriller, but then it takes a hard left into romantic territory, making for an unsubtle transition that’s hard to shake. Though you'll probably like where it ends up, you're left with the unmistakable feeling that there was another movie in there somewhere, still waiting to unfold.

But despite its issues, THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU works. It’s a romance unlike most others we see onscreen -- taut, suspenseful, and unabashedly passionate. Damon and Blunt, though not exactly scorching, share an easy, playful, sometimes tender chemistry. Though they don’t appear hungry for each other, physically, they convince as a couple inextricably drawn to and deeply familiar with each other. No, the film’s not perfect, but neither is love -- or life.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie compares to other thrillers. Is it more or less scary and violent? Which is harder for you to watch -- tense scenes or violent ones? Why?

  • What is the movie saying about people's fate? Do you agree? Do we control our own destinies, or is life mapped out for us?

  • What do you think of the characters' decisions? What would you give up, if necessary, for love?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 4, 2011
DVD release date:June 21, 2011
Cast:Anthony Mackie, Emily Blunt, John Slattery, Matt Damon
Director:George Nolfi
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Thriller
Run time:99 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image

This review of The Adjustment Bureau was written by

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

Quality

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

Parent of a 14 year old Written byAPPROPRATE March 25, 2011
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

lovely movie

I love how Blunt and Damon will do so much for eachother. but there are many rude words
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written bysammylax25 July 23, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Great

this movie is awesome. Although the language is bad and kids aren't allowed to use it there is nothing inappropriate about this movie that your 12 yr old cant see. I would definatly recommend this to anyone who likes a good sci-fi movie.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much swearing
Kid, 10 years old April 2, 2011
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Can't Really Say

I saw this movie, and I didn't really enjoy it. I slept through part of it, so I don't know what people should be concerned about. There's lots of political stuff in it, and also some kissing. It was just okay.

Poll

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

Common Sense Kids Action