Father and child sit together smiling while looking at a smart phone.

Want more recommendations for your family?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration

Parents' Guide to

The Times of Harvey Milk

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Thought-provoking look at a charismatic politician's life.

Movie NR 1984 90 minutes
The Times of Harvey Milk Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+
This film is about a man trying to change things. He is gay, and its a motivator for him, but it is not all that he is about. Instead, this is about power changing in peaceful ways and the violent reaction against it; first in words and attempts at passing laws, and then violence on the part of one man. Most interesting is that it does not try to judge anyone or create a saint, but lets the footage tell a story. Good things to point out are that not only Milk but the straight mayor were killed, the peaceful reaction to this violence, the violent reaction to the verdict (what happens when system fail to be just), the reaction of the government to the destruction of property (as opposed to two murders), and that Dan White's life ends in tragedy, too (suicide). All around, a positive movement ends in all around tragedy. The movie "Milk" was based on this, and botches the job in every way. I like Sean Penn, but it was horrible and preachy. If viewers are homophobic they will not be comfortable with the film, but anyone with some curiosity and tolerance will see it as a struggle of the individual and for rights. This film is not about sex or love, but political power and respect. There is some language, but if you are open to the topic the language will not shock. Overall, it is appropriate.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Director Rob Epstein has mined the archives fully with news footage and interviews that bring the intriguing, charismatic Milk back to life. He leaves almost no stone unturned here without overwhelming with too much detail. The story unfolds like the real-life drama that it was, the suspense inching up as the fateful day approaches, backed up by amazing visuals and audio (including Milk reading his will). What a feat: It could've just as easily ended up dry as toast like many other documentaries looking back on history. And what a history it is! It's not just Milk audiences get to know, it's the entire city of San Francisco at a time when change was a constant and revolution the operative word.

A few (minor) complaints: Milk is tangible as an adult, but before that, he's imprecise. We see some photos from his younger years, but not many, not until his move to San Francisco. White, his nemesis, feels a little slight, too, a mystery figure about which not much is known. One gets a sense of a tortured, complicated man, but not much more. Nevertheless, the film's a revelation.

Movie Details

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