The Day the Earth Stood Still

  • Review Date: December 12, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Sci-fi remake has big effects but no real power.
  • Review Date: December 12, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 103 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

An alien visitor judges mankind's stewardship of the planet Earth and finds us wanting -- resulting in a plan to eradicate human life from the planet. Discussion of loss and death; discussion of the human capacity for change in the face of disaster.

Positive role models

The alien is unlikable; Helen is a better role model, but her character isn't really developed well.


Military forces shoot an alien visitor, with blood spatter; later, people bleed from wounds created by microscopic nano-bots that devour everything in their path. Missile strikes and bombs are rained down on indestructible alien robots and ships, with some humans in the path of the blast. A police officer is struck by a car; several supporting characters are knocked out or suffer pain as an effect of some high-pitched noise the alien technology emits.

Not applicable

Hardly any -- just one "hell" and a couple of expressions along the lines of "oh my god."


A good bit of product placement -- the Windows logo is clearly visible at several points, and one scene takes place at a McDonald's. The NASA logo is also visible. Several shots of cityscapes, where advertising for companies like Coca-Cola and The New York Giants can be seen.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Two people driving drink beers.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this drama/thriller (which is a remake of a 1950s classic that most kids probably haven't seen) has lots of urban destruction, as well as some scenes of science-fiction-style violence perpetrated against people. There's some blood and some graphic visuals, such as when a man with broken legs is healed through super-science and his broken legs are seen straightening out. There's also a notable amount of product placement, particularly for Windows and McDonald's. On a positive note, there's basically nothing in the way of swearing or sex, and the movie offers thought-provoking discussion about humanity's relationship with Earth's ecology.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, astrobiologist Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) is summoned to a government staging area late at night under cover of secrecy -- because a massive object of unknown origin is headed right for Manhattan. But the object isn't an asteroid or meteor; it's a sphere capable of course correction and deceleration -- a ship of some kind. After a humanoid figure and a giant robotic machine leave the craft, a shot rings out, and the humanoid figure falls. Emerging from a cocoon of pasty goo, the visitor looks human; his name is Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), and after escaping from custody, he enlists Dr. Benson's help in his mission: to determine whether humankind should be destroyed so that the planet Earth might survive.

Is it any good?


Remaking a 1951 genre classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still might have better visions and visuals than the low-budget original, but it lacks the heart and sense of wonder the first film had -- it's as if the people behind this film figured they could get by on special effects alone. Reeves plays the alien visitor as an unlikable, unrelenting functionary who's doing what he must: "The decision is made; the process has begun." Connelly's character tries to get him to change his mind, while also fitting in some relationship management with her distant, moody stepson (Jaden Smith); as Benson pleads and Klaatu stays impassive, the film throws plenty of big-screen spectacle at us, but it never really connects the high-tech tricks with any heart.

Director John Derrickson has previously worked on lower-budget horror films and thrillers, and he shows a capable hand with the bigger budget -- but he doesn't show as much promise with the film's bigger ideas. The Day the Earth Stood Still wants to move our minds and quicken our pulses, but it does a far better job of the latter than the former; for all of the film's discussion of how mankind is destroying the Earth, there's precious little mention of what we're doing wrong or what we could do better. It as if the filmmakers were afraid of upsetting anyone ... while they proceeded to destroy New York and show us the end result of their effects budget. In the attempt to avoid saying anything controversial, The Day the Earth Stood Still winds up not saying much of anything at all.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the film's central theme: What will it take for humans to deal with issues like pollution, global warming, overpopulation, and other consequences of our industrial-technological lifestyle? Is it the media's job to point out these issues?

  • Do you think most mainstream movies have an issue-based agenda? Why or why not?

  • Families who've seen the original can also discuss the differences

  • between the two films. How have filmmaking styles and technologies

  • changed in the past 50 years, and what era-specific real-world concerns

  • do the different films speak to?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 12, 2008
DVD release date:April 7, 2009
Cast:Jaden Smith, Jennifer Connelly, Keanu Reeves
Director:Scott Derrickson
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some sci-fi disaster images and violence

This review of The Day the Earth Stood Still was written by

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  • 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.

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written by9001 April 8, 2010

Disappointing movie

This movie was very disappointing. It wasn't that great at all, it had the constant annoyance of "PEOPLE ARE KILLING THE EARTH", which is getting really old, stupid, and annoying. Sure, we definitely need to cut back on pollution, but saying we are killing the earth or "draining it of its resources" is a dramatic overstatement. Also, there is a fair amount of violence that may disturb young children.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 17 years old Written bycopperzinc April 6, 2009
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old May 26, 2009


this was a disaster movie, best special effects ever.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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