The Aviator Movie Poster Image

The Aviator



Good but not great, and not for younger kids.
Popular with kids
  • Review Date: May 22, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 166 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Plane crashes, serious injuries, fighting, stunts.


Sexual references and situations, non-sexual nudity.


Brief strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking, smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has some very violent airplane crashes, some causing serious injury. Characters drink, smoke, and use strong language. There are explicit sexual references and situations and some non-sexual nudity. Some audience members may be upset by the scenes involving Hughes' struggles with mental illness.

What's the story?

THE AVIATOR chronicles the life of Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio), the man who produced era-defining movies, dated the world's biggest movie stars (Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Jean Harlow), founded an airline (TWA), owned seven Las Vegas casinos, designed and test-piloted airplanes, risked fortunes and made bigger ones, and died as a recluse, the prisoner of illness and of the greedy people around him who did whatever he said instead of insisting he get help. Hughes assembles the world's largest private air force to make a movie, designs and flies experimental airplanes, gets trapped in the men's room because he can't bear to touch the germ-covered doorknob, and take on the most formidable of opponents from Katharine Hepburn's family to the movie rating board and Maine's corrupt senator.

Is it any good?


A true story that is both touching and thrilling and tons of talent on both sides of the camera are enough to make this a good movie, but not enough to make it a great one. Hughes' larger-than-life story could easily fill six movies, so even this energetic and muscular three-hour-epic feel like it's just skimming the surface. There is no way to try to cover even this one section of Hughes' life without making it feel like a "greatest hits" clip job instead of a story with a real narrative arc. And it never rises from incident to insight.

The second problem is Leonardo DiCaprio, a brilliantly gifted actor but here his squint, tics, and accent make Hughes seems more like a kid struggling with ADD than the tortured larger-than-life. But no one does pageantry better than Scorcese and this is a brilliant film, even with its flaws. Cate Blanchett brings Katherine Hepburn to life. Kate Beckinsdale is adequate as Ava Gardner. The crash scene is bone-chillingly harrowing and the scenes of old-time Hollywood reflect the director's deep love of that era. Like the life it depicts, it is uneven and fascinating.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what made Hughes so passionate about his many projects. Why didn't he want people to know he could not hear? Why wouldn't Ava Gardner let him buy anything other than dinner? Families may also want to learn more about obsessive-compulsive disorder. And they may want to consider whether Hughes might have had to get treatment if he had not been surrounded by people who would do whatever he said in order to continue working for him.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 17, 2004
DVD release date:May 24, 2005
Cast:Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, Leonardo DiCaprio
Director:Martin Scorsese
Run time:166 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic elements, sexual content, nudity, language and a crash sequence

This review of The Aviator was written by

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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.

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Teen, 15 years old Written bybubbo April 9, 2008

Not Good

The Aviator was an hour too long, extremely depressing, and deserved none of the Oscar nominations it got, except for maybe best actor. This movie did have good acting and special effects, and held some interest in the first half. But then it became depressing, dismal, violent, overlong, and no fun to watch at all. In some ways I'd rather watch Date Movie again (a truly awful movie) than this film. Bad for kids, and probably boring even for adults. Not even worth a rent. Should have been rated: Somewhere between PG-13 and R Good for ages 15+
Kid, 11 years old April 19, 2011
Liked it! You do see the bottom of Leonardo DiCaprio! In 2 senses, it is a bit bloody. In some ways, there is a good role model, in some ways a bad role model. Poor Howard Hugues!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great role models
Adult Written byGraham&Heather April 9, 2008


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