The Sting

Movie review by
Elliot Panek, Common Sense Media
The Sting Movie Poster Image
Smart, stylish caper -- but not for kids.
  • PG
  • 1973
  • 135 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 15 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages
Violence

Several shootings (not graphic), a few threats and punches.

Sex

Brief near-nudity, sex insinuated (very indirect).

Language

Several s-words and a racial slur.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of casual smoking and drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film contains several violent scenes, including several on-screen shootings. None of these deaths are terribly bloody. In this film, no one is on the right side of the law. The good guys are simply better at cheating than the bad guys, and their swindling is justified on the grounds that the man they are cheating has killed their friend. There is quite a bit of gambling, drinking, and smoking as well.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11, 14, and 16 year old Written byHSMominHP May 12, 2011

Great movie; mainly beware of language

For the first 45 minutes or so, I wondered why my son liked this movie so much. After that, it's easy to get caught up in the twists and turns. Of course... Continue reading
Parent Written byShelda H. April 10, 2018

Objectification and commodification of women, and the N word (lots)

Within the first 10 minutes the N-word is used several times. The very intro scene is women stripping and dancing with tassels on their nipples for a theater of... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bySalsander August 1, 2013

Interesting Movie is OK for 10 and up, Although may only keep 13 and up engaged

There are only small amounts of mature content throughout. There are a lot of threats of violence as this is a movie about con-artists (the antagonists, who are... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old October 10, 2011

The sting

I watched it with my Dad. It was an okay movie. I loved that it was classic.

What's the story?

THE STING teams Robert Redford with Paul Newman in a lively 1930s crime caper. When grifter Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) and his partner Luther cross the wrong mobster, Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), Luther turns up dead. Seeking revenge, Johnny enlists the help of old friend Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman), con artist extraordinaire. On a train to Chicago, Johnny and Henry get in on a high stakes game of poker with Doyle, roping him into a larger scheme. With some help from a large supporting cast of accomplices, Johnny hatches an extended plot to bilk Doyle out of every penny he has. The fun stops when the FBI puts the screws to Hooker, convincing him to be part of a sting operation to catch the real big fish, Gondorff. In the end, the last one to double-cross the other wins.

Is it any good?

Part of the entertainment of The Sting is just how elaborate the scams can be. The entire movie is an extended series of sidelong glances, winks, and nods. At different moments in the story, the audience is positioned as the shyster and the mark, never sure who is telling the truth. It's a film steeped in nostalgia, not only in its setting, but in style as well. It has more than a few retro touches, from the storybook introduction to each act to the shadowy alleys reminiscent of 1940s film noir.

Despite some serious moments for the sake of drama, the film is full of joyfulness that borders on smugness. The fun in watching it comes from knowing that someone is being taken for a ride, but not knowing exactly who has the upper hand or exactly how things will play out.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the serious ramifications of a life of crime that are not addressed in this film. What are the risks involved with planning such schemes? Were these crooks driven to crime because of the Great Depression? If someone constantly lies and cheats others, can he ever be trusted, even by his closest friends?

Movie details

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