Parents' Guide to

The Purple Rose of Cairo

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Whimsical Woody Allen love note to '30s films.

Movie PG 1985 84 minutes
The Purple Rose of Cairo Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 11+

Movie magic until the very end

This title, to those who have seen Allen's film, will know exactly what I mean, and know that I'm not knocking the film, but referring to its...interesting ending. Otherwise, it's a highly original tale by America's most neurotic storyteller about the power the movies can have on you, so much so that Jeff Daniels can walk straight off the screen! Daniels and Mia Farrow are excellent here, Daniels pulling double duty (you'll see), making both characters distinct and a joy to watch, and Farrow's Cecilia is so meek and likable you just want to wrap her up in a hug and give her an unlimited movie pass! Her character does begin to stand up for herself, which ultimately leaves a good message about defending yourself against bullies. The movie has some great meta-lines, since in fact, we are watching Mia Farrow in a movie watch a gets pretty self-referential. "I just met a wonderful man. He's fictional but you can't have everything" is a perfect summation of this movie: clever, adorable and not without its sadness.
age 6+

One of Allen's best film to date

Woody's stories are often derivative, but he's forgiven that, usually, because the results are good and ultimately do deserve his signature. For PURPLE ROSE, he swipes Buster Keaton's gimmick in SHERLOCK, JR., then lets his imagination run free as he did in the best of his NEW YORKER stories. We wind up with the most fascinating and realistic meditation regarding what it is to be an audience, a viewer's relationship to art, art's relationship to reality. The triumph is amazing, because, despite the depth of the symbolism, PURPLE ROSE can also be seen as sheer entertainment; on its surface, it is still one of the most entertaining pictures Woody has ever made. Farrow and Aiello are marvelous here; Mia, who is quite underrated, has only been as good once -- in BROADWAY DANNY ROSE. The photography is superb, influenced perhaps by Edward Hopper with generally less obvious light sources. Splendid, splendid work.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (2 ):

Woody Allen's whimsical tale seems like a valentine -- with some doubts -- to 1930s movies and their glossy black-and-white make-believe that uplifted downtrodden, Depression-era audiences. Grown-ups can take this breezy comedy as both a tribute to and a cautionary tale of women who love movies too much. Kids can enjoy it as one the many fish-out-of-water plots, in which a fantasy-film archetype must deal with the 20th-century real world. And Woody Allen fans will get their fill of his clever dialogue, tinged with existential angst and uncertainty around the edges.

The gimmicky premise pays off in a number of very funny scenes, but there's also a wistful quality about the film, its sepia-toned settings, and an ending twist that puts into sharp focus the idea that true love and happy endings exist more often in movies than in real life. Younger viewers, especially those not into the time period, might be restless that the farce here is more about dialogue, relationships, and concepts than special effects and action.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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.

See how we rate