Parents' Guide to

The Towering Inferno

By Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Tense, star-studded disaster movie; peril, death, cursing.

Movie PG 1974 165 minutes
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What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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This 1974 disaster movie is big in every way, from its huge, star-studded cast led by Paul Newman and Steve McQueen to its nearly three-hour runtime. But while the film has standout tense moments and still-impressive special effects, the emotional impact of The Towering Inferno rarely gets beyond a smolder. Designed to be a spectacle, the movie is at its best when it feels like a ride at a theme park. Its well orchestrated thrills ratchet up the excitement and widen the grin. But the gaps between these pulse-racing sequences do feel slow-paced, as the fire takes its time to spread.

In McQueen and Newman, director John Guillermin is blessed with two of Hollywood's most famous leading men. Meanwhile Richard Chamberlain's villain is deliciously unlikable as the cowardly Roger Simmons. Rather than being a reflection of the true terror of a fire, this is a romp of a disaster movie, with some big, fun set pieces, heroes to root for, and villains to boo.

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