The Imitation Game

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Imitation Game Movie Poster Image
Strong performances buoy teen-friendly historical drama.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 114 minutes
 Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 28 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

Perseverance pays off. Gender doesn't dictate intelligence or competency (the 1940s, specifically the Bletchley Project in England, helped usher in gender equality in the sciences). Empathy is a major theme.

Positive role models & representations

Turing sticks to his guns and his beliefs despite being told by his superiors that he's wrong. Joan Clarke was ahead of her time in her response to Turing's sexuality and courageous in her approach to work.


Bullies torment a classmate at a boys' school; they trap him under floorboards, tease him in the yard, and shove him around. Scenes of battle during World War II show bombs being dropped, buildings exploding, and soldiers firing at enemies. Professional arguments at work are laced with personal vendettas and implied threats.


Couples flirt in social situations. Sexual identity is a theme of the movie.


Some swearing; mostly British slang from the period. One character is labeled a "toff" and a "poof."

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Social drinking and period-accurate smoking. A character makes a reference to taking drugs that cause chemical castration.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Imitation Game is a historical drama that explores the role that cryptologists and mathematicians played in World War II. Expect candid discussions about lives lost during war, accompanied by footage showing bombs falling and soldiers firing guns. A boy is also tormented by school bullies. Leading the team of scientists trying to break the Germans' Enigma code is Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a closeted homosexual who ends up being vilified for his sexuality. The subject of is handled fairly delicately and is discussed in mostly oblique ways, though characters do call him slurs, like "toff." Ultimately there are strong themes about the power of persistence and the fact that gender doesn't dictate intelligence or competency.

User Reviews

Parent of a 8 and 11 year old Written byawsamuel January 12, 2015

(SPOILER) Great movie for bright kids -- but with a big note of caution

We saw this movie without our kids, loved it, and would like to be able to share it with them...but at ages 8 and 11 we're not sure they can handle it. The... Continue reading
Parent Written bydietmom January 6, 2015

strong homosexual theme

We took our family to this movie based on the reviews from this site even talking their grandparents due to their interest in cryptography. If I had been more a... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byThe Reel Aisle Seat January 17, 2015

One of 2014's Best

I have been looking forward to seeing "The Imitation Game", and it finally came to my town's theater last week. It was great. Benedict Cumberbatc... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byCommon_Sense_Movies December 21, 2014

Good, fairly accurate movie based on an amazing true story

This is a fairly accurate representation of the incredible life of one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived. I am a fan of math and science history, so... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE IMITATION GAME begins in 1941, when Europe is in the clutches of Nazi Germany. In Britain, air raids have become a way of life, and thousands of soldiers are dying on the battlefield. To fight its enemies, the British government recruits the country's best mathematicians and scientists to help break the code for the Enigma, a machine the Germans use to send instructions to their military personnel. Enter Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a Cambridge-educated cryptologist who, with a team of mathematicians -- including the pioneering Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), one of a very few women on the project -- sets out to crack Enigma and its secrets. But Turing holds a secret of his own: He's gay. And he may be attacked by his peers, and the government, for that fact.

Is it any good?

Without question, Cumberbatch is up to the task of bringing to life a complicated, brilliant man. Turing is multi-dimensional, his emotional depths layered. He is, by far, the best part of this enjoyable, if flawed, film. As entertainment, The Imitation Game has loads to recommend it: It's paced well, features strong performances from the ensemble, and does a fine enough job of explaining the ideas behind cryptology. But history buffs will know that it's a condensation and that the filmmakers have been liberal with their shortcuts. Bletchley Park, where the Enigma code was broken, had dozens of code-breakers toiling on the project, not the handful shown here. (They're framed and shot like a gang of superheroes before the climax of a big face-off -- a simplistic take on greatness.)

Turing's achievements can't be boiled down to one cinematic moment, as they are here. It would have been better if the movie had attempted to show the project's elaborateness, rather than simplifying it for the screen. And his hidden homosexuality is given a rather superficial study, its impact on his life hurried in the final act. Still, Cumberbatch deserves all the praise that he'll no doubt reap. He's fantastic.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Turing's personal life and how it was dragged through the mud in the 1950s. How does The Imitation Game depict this? How might it be different today?

  • Some facts were altered to fit the movie's narrative. How do you feel about that? Should movies inspired by history be strictly factual? Why might filmmakers choose to tweak the facts?

  • How does the movie portray bullying? What effects does it have?

  • How do the characters in The Imitation Game demonstrate empathy and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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