The Sting



Smart, stylish caper -- but not for kids.
  • Review Date: December 7, 2006
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1973
  • Running Time: 135 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

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


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


Several s-words and a racial slur.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of casual smoking and drinking.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:December 25, 1973
DVD release date:March 31, 1998
Cast:Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw
Director:George Roy Hill
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:135 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild violence

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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; OK 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, 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 shady cops, resort to violent methods to earn their con money, however there methods generally don't turn out to work). The protagonist, Hooker, is chased a fair share of times by conmen with guns. Additionally these thugs also punch the protagonist and other characters in an attempt to gain money or information, but this is mild and only happened one or two times. A friend of the protagonist is murdered by the antagonists, but only the aftermath is shown and it is in the dark, so no bloody/disturbing details can be seen. Guns are fired, but only in one instance a character is killed, but it was out of self defense. You see the character shot in the head with a small amount of blood appearing on the character's forehead for a split second, but the camera turns quickly and the aftermath of her hit can't be seen. [(Spoiler) The last concern from violence comes from the final scene in the movie. Two men appear to have shot each other, but the ending reveals they staged their deaths in order to con a man. You'll see bits of fake blood on their shirt. (/Spoiler)] Sexuality: One scene takes place in a brothel, but only one woman can be seen doing a performance. However the underwear she wears is thick so not much is exposed. Language: There is a fair amount. It has a little too much for a PG movie, but I have heard much more language used in a majority of PG-13 movies. Sh-t is and 1 use of n----r (not directed to be racist) are the worst you'll hear. Small obscenties like hell or d-mn are also sprinkled throughout. Language was there, but it wasnt constant.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old February 26, 2012

Good movie

The Sting is actually a good movie, good for kids who don't have a problem with swearing. It is an interesting movie because the main character is actually not a very good role model, I liked it though.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
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 other families should know
Too much violence


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