The Graduate

Movie review by
David Gurney, Common Sense Media
The Graduate Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Influential coming-of-age sex comedy has mature themes.
  • PG
  • 1967
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 20 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

 Blond, blue-eyed WASP America tacitly indicted for oblivious privilege. Some may consider Ben's use of a cross in a church blasphemous.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No one behaves admirably. Feeling hollow and aimless after college graduation, Ben has an adulterous affair with an older woman, which makes him feel more aimless and hollow. His parents' generation seems unhappy, superficial, and devoted to material things. At best, Ben seeks more meaning in life, but even when he wins Elaine, their living meaningful lives happily is far from assured. Mrs. Robinson is a self-described alcoholic who seduces her friends' son. Breaking and entering, stalking, going by an assumed name, and premarital pregnancy all featured.


Ben rams his shoulder into a mob at a church, then grabs a large cross on the wall and wields it threateningly to keep the crowd back. Once outside, he uses the cross to bar the door.


Sex is an ever-present topic. Ben has an affair with a married woman, then falls in love with her daughter. Mrs. Robinson, in bra, unbuttons Ben's shirt as he lies in bed, then rubs his bare chest. A few seconds of the nude Mrs. Robinson are on display. A topless dancer at a bar is covered only by tassels on her nipples while she does a seductive dance for several seconds.


Infrequent use of, for example, "goddamn," "hell," and "ass" and the epithet "wop."


Celebration of elaborate gifts (Alfa Romeo, scuba gear).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking and smoking. Mrs. Robinson says she's an alcoholic.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Graduate is a unique classic comedy charting an affair between a young man and a married friend of his parents. Much time is spent on the initial seduction and subsequent clandestine meetings in hotel rooms. Though no graphic depictions of intercourse are shown, there are brief shots of female nudity during the seduction and later in a nightclub scene, where a woman strips down to underwear and pasties. Language is fairly restrained, with a few minor curse words, such as "ass" or "damn" used sparingly. Many of the adults drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes very casually.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byprotectivemom111 November 11, 2012

Adults only-rated R

If you think your child should watch a movie that is completely about sexual exploits, a virgin college graduate being seduced by his mother's friend, havi... Continue reading
Adult Written byyuri13 October 13, 2014
Not so bad content,but partial nudity(played for laughs)
Teen, 15 years old Written bymongofa June 9, 2010

Good for teens

Great movie. Dustin Hoffman gives an amzing perfomrmance, but it shoud be rated higher than PG.
Teen, 14 years old Written byLukeCon October 8, 2020

Nichols' mature but interesting reflection of the era, youth

While the film is not appropriate for young kids, it certainly offers a reflective look at its time period. The Graduate includes several hidden themes that act... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE GRADUATE, after Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) leaves college, he's disinterested in everything, career-related or not. A family friend, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), propositions him with an offer of casual sex. The affair seems to bring Benjamin a certain level of contentment. Soon Ben finds problems with their relationship and develops an interest in the Robinsons' daughter, Elaine (Katherine Ross), much to Mrs. Robinson's disapproval.

Is it any good?

This intriguing comedy was influential in that the plot seems to build toward an energetic climax, but the actual closing moments are listless, providing little closure. This way of leaving a film open-ended and unsettled, above all else, influenced many of the cinematic treasures of the late 1960s and early 1970s, a period that most look back on as golden days of motion-picture history.

Much has been said about the success and aftershocks of the release of The Graduate in 1967. Certainly its deadpan humor and the main character's palpable sense of unease resonated with audience members steeped in the rising counterculture movement. It stands as a document of an era. The lush soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel underscores a pervasive melancholy while also giving certain quiet moments an astounding serenity -- a marriage of pop music and film that influenced many later films.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how well The Graduate has aged. Does Benjamin's lack of direction upon graduating seem applicable today, or is it more reflective of the state of youth in the '60s? 

  • Parents definitely will want to address Ben's complicated relationship with Mrs. Robinson. Does she seem genuinely interested in Benjamin? If not, what might her motives be in seducing him?

  • Why does Elaine seem to gain appeal for Benjamin when Mrs. Robinson forbids him to see her?

  • Would you consider this movie to be a classic? Why, or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love offbeat characters

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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