The Artist Movie Poster Image

The Artist

Loving tribute to silent films has a few tense moments.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie celebrates friendship/loyalty, old Hollywood, and the magic of the movies, though it also suggests that "progress" is inevitable -- and that some people, especially those who are no longer young or fresh, may be cast aside in the process. Characters eventually learn difficult lessons about being overly proud and turning away help and affection when they're offered.

Positive role models

George starts out full of confidence and cheer (albeit with a tendency to hog the limelight); as his fortunes change, so does his outlook. Frustration and self-pity eventually overwhelm him, but he fights his way out of their shadow and learns that it's not beneath him to accept help and friendship from others. Peppy overall lives up to her name -- she's determined and goal-oriented, but she's also cheerful, loyal, and energetic.


In one tense/upsetting scene, it appears as though a character is going to commit suicide with a gun (he puts it into his mouth). Also, the movie opens on a mild torture scene (a character is shocked via electricity) that turns out to be part of a film within the film -- as are a few quick fight/chase scenes that follow. Another film-within-a-film sequence shows someone falling victim to quicksand. Also, a car crashes, and a reckless fire gets out of control and causes damage to property and one character.


Some flirting, longing glances, close dancing, and chaste embraces.


One use of "damn" (on title card); one rude gesture (a character flips someone off).

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Very frequent smoking (accurate for the era); mostly cigarettes, but also some cigars. Adult characters also drink (mostly cocktails/hard liquor), sometimes to excess; while drunk, one character has visions and makes a rash, dangerous decision.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Artist -- a black-and-white homage to Hollywood's silent movies of the 1920s -- is nearly silent itself, relying on characters' gestures and expressions, the musical score, and occasional title cards to tell its story of fame, fortune, and friendship. As such, it might not appeal to many kids, but those who really love movies may be drawn in by its references, setting, and old-fashioned celebration of cinema. There are a few tense/violent scenes, including one in which a distraught character puts a gun in his own mouth and another in which a fire gets out of control. You can also expect lots of era-accurate smoking and a fair bit of drinking, including some overindulgence. But there's virtually no language or sexual content, and in the end characters learn important lessons about the value of friendship and humility.

What's the story?

In 1927 Hollywood, silent movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is the George Clooney of his era -- charming, handsome, and a huge box office success. Despite the fact that he's married, he's also a bit of a flirt, and when ingenue Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) catches his eye, they share a few tender (though chaste) moments. As Peppy's career gradually takes off, George finds his own wings severely clipped by the advent of talkies; it's out with the old and in with the new, and George is definitively lumped in with the "old." Though his fortunes are far from what they used to be, George tries to stay positive -- but will his pride allow him to accept help when he needs it most?

Is it any good?


THE ARTIST is a movie for people who love movies. It lovingly pays tribute to a glamorous Hollywood that no longer exists, celebrating starry-eyed girls dreaming of red carpet glory, mustachioed matinee idols, and audiences who wholeheartedly buy into the celluloid illusions that flicker in the dark. It touches on some dark themes -- the relentless nature of "progress," the risk of being marginalized by the latest technological achievement, the dangers of excessive pride -- but it's still ultimately an uplifting story about friendship, loyalty, and the power of the movies. And it definitely isn't without humor; director Michel Hazanavicius strategically (and playfully) uses the movie's few non-silent moments to elicit knowing laughs.

While the movie's two stars -- both of whom are delightful -- are French, the supporting cast is filled with faces that will be more familiar for American audiences, from John Goodman as a blustering studio executive to James Cromwell as a loyal chauffeur/valet. The score is excellent, the cinematography lovely (there's a reason directors like to film people smoking in black and white). The Artist may not appeal to kids as much as the similarly themed Singin' in the Rain, which is more upbeat and accessible overall, but for anyone who's passionate about cinema, it's a must-see.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why the filmmakers would want to make a silent movie today, when technology is so different. What's the appeal? Would the movie have been as effective if it was about silent movies but not silent itself?

  • Who do you think The Artist is intended to appeal to? How can you tell?

  • How does the fact that the movie is silent impact the way the actors behave on screen? What do you think would have been different if the movie had more dialogue?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 23, 2011
DVD/Streaming release date:June 26, 2012
Cast:Berenice Bejo, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman
Director:Michel Hazanavicius
Studio:Weinstein Co.
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:a disturbing image and a crude gesture

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Adult Written bySynchronicity January 2, 2012

Amazing tribute to Hollywood's golden age is, hands down, the best film of 2011! Perfectly appropriate for older kids who love film.

In this age of CGI, 3D and Technicolor landscapes galore, it's quite strange to see a black-and-white movie in a 1:33 aspect ratio (instead of 16:9 widescreen, the norm these days) that's silent with intertitles about 95% of the time. What's even more surprising is that many are calling it the best film of the year. I couldn't agree more. The Artist is simply delightful, and film fans of (almost) all ages should check this one out. The story has elements from classic films like A Star is Born, Singin' in the Rain and Citizen Kane, yet feels quite original. Between the years 1927 and 1932, a famous film actor named George Valentin gets left out in his studio's transition to "talkies," while Peppy Miller, a young starlet he made famous, gets tons of exposure by starring in them. "Out with the old, and in with the new," the studio's lead executive says, and George gets progressively more distraught, but Peppy ends up saving him from his despair. I won't tell you anything else, because all film lovers and people who are tired of derivative blockbusters need to see this film. Also, despite the PG-13 rating, it actually has very little objectionable content to speak of, and is right on the fence between PG and PG-13. The sparse list of MPAA content descriptors confirms this: a disturbing image (a brief but somewhat intense suicide attempt, but it's interrupted and not very graphic) and a rude gesture (a woman giving a man “the finger”). There's also plenty of smoking and drinking, and while the former is definitely glamourized at times (smoking scenes in black-and-white do look beautiful, after all), it's firmly placed in the 1920s time period that it's set in. The drinking is condemned, as a decision made by an inebriated character ends up putting his life in danger. Overall, though, if you love film and don't mind the fact that it's a silent movie produced in a technologically advanced age, The Artist will delight you. Plus, not only do the human actors put on amazing performances, but the film's canine star, Uggy, is also quite a riot.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byterra100 November 23, 2011

Surprisingly entertaining - a delightful film!

Who would ever think watching a silent film would fill you with more joy and entertainment than anything else playing in theaters? Well, I was surprised to realize that "The Artist" is really the most refreshing and delightful film of 2011 that I have seen. Because it is a silent film -- exquisitely done -- your left brain takes a much-needed rest and you are on a freedom ride with your right brain. The film is a breath of fresh air in this regard. The story is lovely. The actors are sensational. The choreography is perfection. You'll laugh, maybe cry. You will be entertained. I love this film!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 11 years old December 26, 2011


Awesome! It's really something. This movie is very original! Nobody has ever made a silent movie since Mel Brook's "Silent Movie". It also has a great acting job done by Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo.