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Parents' Guide to

The Paper Chase

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Love of learning is tops in classic law school tale.

Movie PG 1973 111 minutes
The Paper Chase Poster Image

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The Paper Chase is a quiet, thoughtful film about an unlikely subject: the joy of learning. It was released in 1973 and certainly looks its age, especially the clothes and hairstyles. It's hard to imagine the film being released today, at least not without a studio demanding a car chase or two. But the message is timeless -- that knowledge is important, that great achievements take work, that learning is its own reward, and that life is about more than just what happens in the classroom.

The film revolves around the demanding Kingsfield, and Hart, who will do whatever it takes to win the great man's favor. It's not at all clear that he will, and in some cases Hart's best just isn't good enough. He fails in some tasks, and even when he succeeds, those victories are short lived. While the story revolves around the student, Houseman makes the professor into one of the great characters of film, a tyrant in the classroom who never yields an inch. The classroom scenes are the best part of the film. The rest of the story is less fascinating, and mostly shows Hart and his classmates studying and trying to squeeze in the rest of their lives around the edges of their reading. We're not give a lot of reasons to be happy when Hart succeeds, and at the end of the film it's unclear whether he made much of an impression on Kingsfield either.

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