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The Great Gatsby

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Great Gatsby Movie Poster Image
Fitzgerald classic gets a decadent, gorgeous, tricky update.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 142 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 45 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The film's underlying message is pretty bleak: People, especially privileged people with no perspective, can be rotten. But, in a way, it also celebrates those who continue to hold hope, even in the face of cynicism. There's a conspicuous flaunting of wealth and some discussion about "old" and "new" money.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most everyone behaves in questionable ways in the movie (and the book), but narrator Nick Carraway manages to become the moral center. In the end, he's the one who identifies the callousness that pervades the likes of Tom, Daisy, and their friends.

Violence

A man is held by two others while someone else hits him, in a very brief scene. Another character runs over a woman with a car; her body is shown many times hitting the windshield and thudding to the ground. A man is also shown shooting someone from a distance and then putting the same gun in his mouth. A man strikes a woman hard.

Sex

A couple is heard moaning from behind closed doors. Married men grope at women who aren't their wives, and infidelity is a big part of the overall plot. Some innuendo. A couple exchanges some passionate kisses and is later shown partially nude (no sensitive body parts shown) in bed, under the covers.

Language

Language includes relatively infrequent use of "hell," "damn," "goddamn," "oh my God," "son of a bitch," and some derogatory/racist terms and comments. Songs used on the soundtrack include some stronger words, including "f--k" (infrequent), "s--t," and "d--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Tons of drinking. One character is described as "morbidly alcoholic," and characters are shown drinking and driving. Also some smoking (accurate for the movie's time period), and one scene shows a woman popping "mood pills." Though the film frequently portrays partying and drunken debauchery as wildly fun, it also includes the darker aftermath -- the literal and figurative messes that need cleaning up.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that director Baz Luhrmann's (Moulin Rouge) take on The Great Gatsby is a decadent, dizzying version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic American novel. The movie is true to the book, featuring scenes with lots of drinking -- often to excess -- and smoking. There's not too much swearing (though some soundtrack song lyrics include infrequent use of "s--t" and "f--k"), but expect some violence (a man punches another, a car hits a woman head-on, and a character shoots another) and sexuality. Couples -- including people married to others  -- are shown kissing and in bed (bare shoulders). Leonardo DiCaprioTobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan star; that, plus the movie's hip soundtrack and lush style, are likely to make it very appealing to teens.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byShivom Oza May 16, 2013

The Great Gatsby (2013) Review by Shivom Oza – ‘Great’ In The Film’s Title Is Justified!

An adaption of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel of the same name, Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ revolves around the equation between a mysterious millionair... Continue reading
Adult Written bymoviemaker201 July 14, 2013

Great Gatsby, Great Time.

I really liked it. Some didn't like the soundtrack. I liked it. It added its own flare to the film. I think it also helps introduce the book to the new gen... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bySean Broucek May 14, 2013

AWESOME

This gorgeous, brilliant hollywood update is sure to wow audiences with it's acting, lush style, and killer soundtrack, but may be too mature for 14-. Ther... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old May 10, 2013

What's the story?

Set in New York in the lavish Roaring Twenties, this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic THE GREAT GATSBY stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, a wealthy, mysterious, self-made man who moves into a Long Island mansion and makes a name for himself by throwing lavish, bacchanalian parties -- all for the singular purpose of winning back the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). Daisy's husband, Tom (Joel Edgerton), is oblivious (at first) to it all because he's so preoccupied with his own dalliances. Witness to it all is Gatsby's neighbor, Daisy's cousin, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), who plays a part in bringing them together and witnesses a series of events that ultimately reveals the characters' tragic flaws.

Is it any good?

Baz Luhrmann is a polarizing director. His cinematic canvasses have sometimes been dismissed for being overstuffed, his take on the classics -- a mix of tradition and overwhelming modernism -- muddled. The same criticisms can be brought to bear on The Great Gatsby. Some scenes explode with so much visual stimulation that watching them feels rapacious and gluttonous -- a perfect strategy for evoking the excesses of the Jazz Age, yes, but also distracting and hard to enjoy. Luhrmann can move too quickly from one overfull scene to the next, too, not giving the audience time to take it all in. And the music -- what happened to the music? The soundtrack is wonderful, but we only hear slivers of most of it, and often not enough for the songs to enhance the movie's vision. Luhrmann used music much more masterfully in Romeo + Juliet, which some may say is a more accomplished adaptation (there, he fully modernized a classic, setting it in present times -- unlike Gatsby, which he keeps in the 1920s).

And yet, Gatsby is still genius, even if so much of what horrified in Fitzgerald's book -- the rottenness of the lot of them -- doesn't have as much resonance in these Facebook-heavy, reality-TV-driven times. For all its flaws, The Great Gatsby is a mind-bending experience. Commit to it fully as its own entity, a re-invention as much as Jay Gatsby himself is, and you'll be transported and affected by the heartbreak of it all, the folly of a man filled with hope but borne back, as Fitzgerald put it, ceaselessly into the past. Aside from the miscasting of Edgerton and Jason Clarke (who plays George), who both overact, the rest of the ensemble is perfect. DiCaprio is as good as he has ever been, distilling Gatsby's striving, hopeful, and ultimately destructive nature into a heartbreaking cocktail. Mulligan may not have as much depth, but she nonetheless makes for a frustratingly appealing Daisy. And Maguire? He makes no false move here, not a single one, proving the perfect witness to the profligate, imprudent ways of Nick's people.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Gatsby and his commitment to Daisy. Why was it so important for him to be rich? What motivated his behavior?

  • The movie is a modernized period adaptation of a classic. Does it work? How is it different from more faithful adaptations? Does the modern soundtrack make it more accessible?

  • Hollywood loves to mine books for material. What's lost and gained in the cinematic translation?

  • How does the movie portray drinking? Is it glamorized? Are there realistic consequences?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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