The Adjustment Bureau

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Adjustment Bureau Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Sci-fi/romance hybrid mixes plot twists, serious themes.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 99 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 31 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

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 & Representations

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.


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


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


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


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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some scenes feature people drinking beers in bars.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGabriel Mohler September 29, 2015

MUST SEE for the mature, despite innuendo

Be wary of language and premarital sex, but this movie is totally worth watching.
Adult Written byScott_C September 14, 2012

Good movie and Great actors

I have to disagree with Commonsense on the topic of Positive messages. While what they say is true, it is slightly out of context. You can't look at it as... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysammylax25 July 23, 2011


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 c... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byWildgurl01 March 27, 2011

Good Movie

Great movie and theres really nothing bad in it. Sends a strong message that we decide our own fate and we have to ight for the things we want.

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills and romance

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