The Shawshank Redemption

  • Review Date: June 12, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1994
  • Running Time: 142 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Gritty but comforting story of friendship.
  • Review Date: June 12, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1994
  • Running Time: 142 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Enduring friendship between a white man and a black man plays a prominent role. Inmates work together, often illegally, to make life more bearable. The warden is corrupt and takes bribes, but it's shown in a negative light.

Violence

Graphic scenes of guards beating (and, in one case, killing) inmates, suicide, murder, inmate brawls, threats of male rape, references to such rape.

Sex

Sex between two people is portrayed obliquely at the beginning of the movie. Lots of cheesecake photos decorate the prison walls.

Language

The big cuss words are used liberally.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A group of inmates enjoy some beers, shown as an escape from their dreary lives.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is rated R for a reason: The gritty world of Shawshank Prison is populated with sadistic guards, a corrupt warden, and predatory fellow inmates. Two characters have sex (their clothes are on, and it's not graphic), one loveable character hangs himself, guards shoot an inmate and frame it as an escape attempt, inmates attempt and, we are told, succeed in raping Andy, and guards beat and kill an inmate in the opening scenes. But the film also shows inmates forming a loving community of friendship and support despite oppressive conditions.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted for the murder of his wife and her lover, and sent to prison. It's 1949, and Andy doesn't have the stuff for prison life. Andy befriends \"Red\" Redding (Morgan Freeman) and uses his past as a banker to get a job in the prison library. But things unravel. In doing the books for the warden, he learns that the prison boss is taking bribes, and Andy is to launder them. A loveable former inmate hangs himself when he gets to the outside after decades behind bars and can't adjust. The inmate whom Andy helps get his GED is shot by the guards to keep him quiet about information that might prove Andy is innocent of the murders and set him free. Andy spends two months in solitary. After he gets out, he seems depressed and Red worries he'll kill himself. The next day, Andy isn't dead, but he isn't there, either. He's escaped. The rest is a perfect Stephen King happy ending, complete with come-uppance for the corrupt warden.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Call this the Stand By Me of prison stories. Stephen King, who penned Stand by Me, also wrote the short story on which The Shawshank Redemption was based. Here we have all the things that made Stand By Me such a satisfying experience: loveable characters, writerly flourishes , one-dimensional evil antagonists, enduring friendships, poetic justice and a happy ending. This one is far darker and far more violent than Stand By Me, and so ought to be reserved only for older teens. The story is slow to develop, and younger kids and children sensitive to the suffering of others may find this world a difficult one to sit with for the film's duration.

Having said all that, the film is satisfying, but cloying. Andy is the minister of the healing power of hope. He educates the inmates on the healing power of Mozart. He builds a library. He asks Red why he stopped playing the harmonica. When Red replies that it's no use in prison, Andy looks at him soulfully and replies that "here's where you need it the most." Despite the somewhat unbelievable friendship between a white, upper-class, innocent banker and a black man in 1949, it's a valuable lesson that may seem inspired to children who haven't heard this story a couple hundred times.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the ways oppressed people have kept their spirit historically -- for example, through spirituals created by slaves. How do Andy and Red handle prison differently? How would you handle such a bleak future? Why did Brooks feel more comfortable in prison than out of prison? Why did Andy get Red a harmonica? What did that represent? Why did Red and Andy disagree on whether they should have hope for a better life? Did their class and race affect their approach?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1994
DVD release date:February 3, 2004
Cast:Bob Gunton, Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins
Director:Frank Darabont
Studio:Castle Rock Entertainment
Genre:Drama
Run time:142 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, mature themes

This review of The Shawshank Redemption was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byskating132 August 10, 2009
AGE
14
QUALITY
 
Amazing movie, one of my three favorites! I could watch it 100 times and it would never get old. Though there is a couple of scenes with violence and sexual dialogue. Language throuought. You see a man commit suicide by hanging himself and many people get beaten very badly. But you notice how bad a jail is and to never do anything that would cause you to have to go to one. Amazing movie about friendship.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Teen, 17 years old Written byGoodFellas1223 April 14, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
Love it, Great movie. over 12 years old, very good, appropriate age. umm a good tip is that, you have to a have a really long attention span, its 2 and half hours long, and every bit of it is excellent but it gets a little confusing. Great movie. If your kid is sensitive, dont watch it with them, very sad parts, some of the parts got to me, im only 13 and i can watch anything, i mean, my favorite movie is Goodfellas...i like serious stuff. but seriously, Watch the movie, it changes your perspective on stuff in life, very touching. im rambling on and on just watch the movie...you will love it. the ending made me cry and im a 13 year old boy that plays football, it makes anyone cry go ahead watch it and enjoy try not to get destracted. also.....dont regret letting your children watch disturbing things, or innapropriate stuff ive been watching family guy, south park and R rated movie since i was 8 and im think skinned and i got a good perspective on life, and innapropriate movies like shawshank will teach your children to think twice about commiting a crime, expose your children to this kind of stuff it grows a thick skin on them de-sensitizes them but not to much
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byhagrid21 September 18, 2011
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

The Greatest Movie Ever Made

Parents, don't let the R rating get to you. Yes, there are several uses of the F bomb, and yes, there is implied rape, but all of that is on the back burner. Up front and in full view is perseverance, hope, friendship, integrity, and good role models. This movie is the number 1 movie on iMDB and is my number 1 as well. Because behind harsh prison life is the wonderful and amazing story of Andy Dufrense.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing

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