A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
Parents and caregivers: Set limits for violence and more with Plus
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this movie isn't very graphic or gory, it's a psychological thriller that may be deeply upsetting to some people. There's a car crash and a tragic accident with many deaths. Another death could be suicide. There's a brief non-graphic sexual situatio and brief strong language.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, Richard Gere stars as John Klein, a star political reporter who thinks his life is going just right when, following a car accident, he finds out that his wife (Debra Messing) has a rare brain tumor. After her death, he sees some odd, angel-like drawings that she made in the hospital. Two years later, he suddenly finds himself in the midst of all kinds of nutty stuff, mostly in a small town in West Virginia on the Ohio River. Mysterious circumstances lead him to the town. When his car dies, he goes to a nearby house to ask for help. The man in the house (Will Patton) holds him at gunpoint, saying that John has been there three nights in a row. A skeptical policewoman named Connie (Laura Linney) tells John of odd happenings, including sightings of a winged creature with red eyes who looks sort of like the drawings John's wife did. So John tells his newspaper that he's working on a story and settles in at the local hotel to investigate.
Is it any good?
Director Mark Pellington knows how to handle suspense and throw in some "boo!"-ish surprises. But the happenings themselves are so un-compelling that it hardly seems worthwhile. Maybe it's because they decided to be true to whatever really happened (though they had no problem moving the time of the story up more than 30 years to take place in the present). But even the Mothman at his most ominous just didn't seem that scary to me.
Another problem is the way that, after all that business with having voiceprints done on the Mothman's recordings and having the sightings substantiated by many different people, the movie hedges its bets at the end by telling us that it all might be a post-traumatic manifestation of John's grief over losing his wife or guilt over thinking about letting her go so that he can move on. It's possible that both are true -- that it was the grief that made John available to otherworldly messages and that he decides to walk away from it. But that still leaves us with a big "so what?"
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: January 25, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: January 25, 2002
- Cast: Debra Messing, Laura Linney, Richard Gere
- Director: Mark Pellington
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: terror, peril, deaths, brief language, and sexual situation
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch