The Godfather

Movie review by
Elliot Panek, Common Sense Media
The Godfather Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
The classic tale of a Mafia family, violence and all.
  • R
  • 1972
  • 175 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 50 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 178 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Movie explores double standards and hypocrisy of these Mafia characters, as they profess to be religious, and family and friend-centered, but their actions ultimately come down to "just business," no matter who gets hurt or killed. As in other Godfather movies, a theme is hypocrisy of American life: People successful and/or religious and family-oriented on one level are also cutthroat, willing to do whatever is necessary to provide for their families. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Positive aspects of Italian American life and culture are overshadowed by Mafia killings and double-crossing. 

Violence

Constant mob movie violence. Characters shot and killed, often at close range and graphic. Attempted killings by gun. Characters choked to death. Character killed by a bomb in a car. Man stabbed in the hand with a knife. Domestic abuse: man shown beating his wife with a belt. Opening scene concerns a man asking Don Corleone for vengeance on two men who raped and violently beat his daughter. Movie executive wakes up covered in blood, with decapitated horse head in his bed. 

Sex

Brief nudity (breasts), brief sex scene (fully clothed). At Connie's wedding, women at a table giggle while one makes reference to the size of Sonny's penis. Sonny is shown having sex with his mistress -- in their clothes, but audible. Reference to how Fredo is "banging cocktail waitresses two at a time." 

Language

"Bastards," "goddamn," "son of a bitch," "ass," "hell," "bitch." Sonny uses the "N" word at the dinner table. Mafia don equates African Americans with "animals." Ethnic slurs used to describe German, Irish, and especially Italian Americans. Vito uses an Italian homosexual slur. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine drinking. Cigarette smoking. Talk of marijuana and heroin, and of the Mafia moving into drug trafficking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Godfather is the classic, genre-defining Mafia movie in which Marlon Brando plays the titular character facing grave threats from rival families. Unsurprisingly, there's constant violence. Characters are shot and killed, often at close range in graphic scenes. Characters are strangled to death and die in car explosions. Domestic abuse is shown: A man beats his wife with a belt. In one of many iconic scenes, a movie executive wakes up covered in blood, with a decapitated horse's head in his bed. In the opening scene, a man asks Don Corleone for vengeance after two men raped and beat his daughter. Ethnic and racial slurs are heard, as well as some profanity, including the "N" word. The movie also has cigarette smoking, wine drinking, and brief nudity (female breasts), and characters are shown having sex, clothed but audible. There are some references made to the sexual behaviors of Sonny and Fredo. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 18+-year-old Written bySircjalot March 20, 2019

It was violent back then and is still violent toady!

This 1972 classic mafia film! many characters are killed in hit operations. In one hit The godfather son shoots a man point blank to the head "blood splatt... Continue reading
Parent Written byApersonthatdoes... February 22, 2021

THE BEST MOVIE EVER

Violence 5/5
Sex 5/5
Language 4/5
Drink/Drugs/Smoking 3/5
Teen, 14 years old Written byTom Cruise Fan August 15, 2015

"The Godfather" movie review

"The Godfather" is my favorite film of all time. It is absolutely legendary. This film, along with "Goodfellas" redefined the gangster and c... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old May 14, 2014

Mandatory High Level of Maturity, Great Beginning

For all of those people saying they did not enjoy this movie, that is because they have not reached the level of maturity mandatory for viewing this film. It wa... Continue reading

What's the story?

The Godfather follows the Corleone family and their rapidly multiplying troubles. Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) is on his way out, and the most promising potential heir is his handsome, war-hero son, Michael (Al Pacino). As family members cope with the trials of gangster life, the latent power structures of society and family become evident.

Is it any good?

Epic in scope while maintaining a patience and intimacy characteristic of European art cinema, THE GODFATHER is rightly considered one of the greatest films ever made. The Godfather continues to influence producers of films, television shows, and video games more than 40 years after its release. Nino Rota's score, the sumptuous set design, and Brando's raspy pseudo-whisper have become part of our collective cultural memory.

The film possesses an operatic quality, yet it's more understated than it is flamboyant. It takes its subjects seriously, bestowing legitimacy upon the internecine power struggles of the Mafia normally reserved for classical themes in high art. The film's release initiated a period when American filmmakers dared to take themselves and their artistic ambitions seriously (perhaps too seriously). There's something deeply resonant in the film's treatment of filial piety, the need for respect, and our culture's abiding interest in the parallel moral universe of the Mafia.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about classic movies. The Godfather is considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time. What makes a movie not only great, but a classic? How do you think it set the standard for the Mafia movies and television shows to come? 

  • How does the violence in the movie serve to show what these characters are capable of in order to get what they want? 

  • How does the movie explore hypocrisy, not only among the Corleones, but in society as a whole? 

  • What makes this movie a classic?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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