The Green Mile Movie Poster Image

The Green Mile



Thoughtful, intelligent movie for older teens.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: May 6, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 188 minutes

What parents need to know


Intense scenes, including very explicit execution.


Some references.


Some strong language, use of racial epithets.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking


Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has a horrifyingly graphic execution scene. Talk to teens who see the movie about Coffey's wish to be put out of his misery, which could be seen by sensitive kids as an argument in favor of suicide.

What's the story?

In THE GREEN MILE, Paul Edgecombe (Tom Hanks) is a Depression-era Louisiana prison guard. His responsibility is the prisoners on Death Row, called "The Green Mile" because of the color of the floor between the cells and the electric chair. New prisoner John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) is a huge black man convicted of raping and murdering two little girls. He is a gentle man with a mysterious power to heal. Edgecombe treats the prisoners with kindness, partly because it is the best way to maintain order, but also because he is a fair and compassionate man. In sharp contrast, another guard is petty and cruel, and a far more evil man than any of the prisoners.

Is it any good?


This is a thoughtful, intelligent movie with outstanding direction. The plot veers into melodrama at times, with at least one coincidence that is overly convenient, but the humanity of the guards keeps the movie on track most of the time. Hanks is the American ideal, just, kind, capable, decent. Bonnie Hunt's performance as Edgecombe's loyal, wise, patient, and very loving wife is a pleasure to watch. Doug Hutchison is terrific as Percy, the nephew of the governor's wife who is assigned to work for Edgecombe, and whose combined arrogance and insecurity lead to disaster. And Michael Clarke Duncan is deeply moving, showing us both Coffey's innocence and his dignity.

It's pretty easy to make a movie where the hero saves the Earth from asteroids or blasts the bad guys into smithereens, because those kinds of battles give us lots of very cool stuff to look at. It's a lot harder to make a movie like this one, holding our attention with heroism in small moments and unlikely places. Teens, who often feel that the problems of the world are too overwhelming to address, can learn from this movie that a small courtesy can have an enormous impact.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the idea that a person might have an extraordinary talent to heal, where that power might come from, and what the responsibilities and burdens might be. Must that ability be accompanied, as it is in John Coffey, with the agonizing experience of "feeling the pain of the world?" Can a person be a healer without experiencing the pain he relieves in others? Must a person whose entire existence is about healing be willing to destroy? What can be healed, and what can not? And why set this story on Death Row? The characters tell us that "What happens on the Mile stays on the Mile. Always has." What rules are different in these direst of circumstances, and why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 10, 1999
DVD release date:June 13, 2000
Cast:Bonnie Hunt, Michael Clarke Duncan, Tom Hanks
Director:Frank Darabont
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:188 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, language and some sex-related material

This review of The Green Mile was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Gritty prison tale has positive messages, lots of profanity.
  • This corny movie may not appeal to kids.
  • Intense, fact-based crime drama celebrates family ties.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 16 years old Written byToTheEights January 2, 2010

If you can handle the fiery, prolonged execution of one character, you're fine.

A wonderful movie, moving, brilliant and subtle. It is violent and Percy's a horrible character-- honestly one of the worst I've ever seen-- but overall it's a very positive and surprisingly uplifting tearjerker that makes the viewer take a second look at their own lives.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviemogul April 9, 2008

What a movie...

From the very beginning, this movie feels different-- which is a good thing. It can be hard to capture an audience so completely without action or whatnot, but The Green Mile delivers in spades. We are introduced to very distinct and realistic characters, and the acting is absolutely superb. Don't let the fact that this movie garnered none of the Oscars it was nominated for put you off-- this movie more than deserved all of them. All the way to the goosebump-inducing ending, The Green Mile is the most astounding movie of the year, and gets my vote for favorite movie ever. SEE IT!!!!!!!!
Kid, 11 years old October 8, 2011

Best Movie Ever!

I just watched this film last night, and I was absolutely mesmorized. It is no doubt, my favourite film. It has got and extravagent storyline, brilliant acting and the script is awesome. Although, I don't think it is suitable for kids, unless they are very, very mature. There is one scene in which a certain character is executed, but a wet sponge was not placed on the victim's head, and so, he literally frazzled to death. There is just screaming for that whole 2 mins. Very graphic, I think that if you were to let your child watch this, definately leave out that scene. Some other violence, including a man being shot several times, bloody marks on his chest, and there is also an upsetting scene in which the main character ( well, one of them), is executed. There are some sexual references, and a sex scene, although it is heard, for about 10 seconds, and not seen. Some swear words, f*** about 7 times, the word n*gg*r is used against John Coffey, mostly spoken by 'Wild Bill'. There are some references to a man raping and killing two little girls, but the actual rape is not seen. Viewers, even adults, will probably cry at this film, as it is extraordinary at really making you feel a part of it. I reccomend for about teens, maybe younger if your child is really, really mature. Thanks for reading. :)
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?