The Words

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Words Movie Poster Image
Teen-friendly romance is thoughtful but falls short.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

You can't run away from the past or bury it. Neither should you co-opt another person's history; you should instead embrace it and own it and try to learn from it. Every choice has a consequence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rory makes a choice that could haunt him forever. But at heart, he's a good man, a caring husband, and an impassioned writer. Most everyone in the film is sincere and decent; they may be flawed and sometimes hurtful, but it's not borne of malice.


Couples have heart-wrenching arguments; an infant dies from illness, leaving his parents devastated. A man throws his belongings around in a fit of anger.


Couples kiss and make out, but there's no nudity.


Relatively infrequent swearing includes one "f--k," plus "s--t," "goddamn," "hell," "ass," and "bulls--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mostly social drinking by adults at parties and restaurants, though a few scenes show characters drinking and upset while inebriated. Lots of period-accurate smoking in the scenes set in the past.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Words, some of which takes place in an earlier time period, leans heavily on the idea of consequence, a subject that can be weighty but is also of value for young teens learning to consider the impact of their decisions and behavior. Expect a bit of swearing (one "f--k," a few "s--t"s, etc.) and kissing/making out. There's also some drinking, mostly in social settings (though occasionally to excess), and smoking (accurate for the earlier era that some of the movie takes place in). An infant's death is devastating to his parents.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byClaymix January 6, 2013

Better than everyone says

(I apologize for the horrid formatting of this review. Nothing seemed to work!) It's a shame that this movie is so under appreciated for what it really is:... Continue reading
Adult Written byMusic/Movies March 5, 2013

Sex: 5/10 - Violence: 1/10 - Language: 7/10 - Drinking/Smoking: 8/10

(I am reviewing the theatrical version) Sex: A man and a woman lat down on a matress. They kiss and flirt. *A woman sits on a man's lap and kisses him a fe... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMegumi05 January 4, 2019


Some of the best actors and actresses are in this movie. So underrated! The movie is about a struggling writer who makes a huge mistake that will affect his lif... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byracingstripes October 8, 2014

The Words

Wonderful story good messages. If you do a wrong you have to face the cobsequenses .

What's the story?

Rory Jensen (Bradley Cooper) has longed to be a published writer for as long as he can remember. But the going has been tough. Writing his first book has taken years, and finding a publisher to take it on has proven nearly impossible. Then, on one of many sleepless nights, he finds an old manuscript hidden in an antique portfolio that his wife, Dora (Zoe Saldana), bought for him on their honeymoon. It's a masterful piece of writing, one he's tempted to adopt as his own. Rory's story unfolds within the context of another book, called The Words, written by famous writer Clayton Hammond (Dennis Quaid). Is it real, or is it fiction?

Is it any good?

You have to give props to a movie that dares to be thoughtful and thought-provoking; few aim squarely at these targets, so kudos for trying. But unfortunately THE WORDS falls short of its ambitions. To start, it's much too long at two-plus hours. Its riddle-wrapped-in-a-mystery plot has lots of threads to pursue, but it's still bloated (ironically, it should have had fewer words). When audiences have to peel through so many layers, you'd better be sure each one is worth the work -- and in this case, some of them aren't. Rory's story has a good hook, and viewers will likely even be intrigued when the purposefully vague "old man" reveals the movie's twist. But then that's followed by yet another twist, one which we no longer care to puzzle over -- not because it's so daunting, but because we've had enough.

This isn't the actors' fault. (Except for maybe Quaid, who's always likable but is also a little smarmy for his role, which needs more gravitas.) Cooper tries, and it's always great to run across Jeremy Irons. The Words is in some ways reminiscent of The Notebook, but the romance at the heart of this film's sad and troubled past is as stereotypically cinematic as they come. Heart-wrenching? Sure. Unique? No. Transcendent? Definitely not. Also, a movie about a novel that's meant to be an American classic ought to have words that burrow under our skin because they're so memorable. The little we hear barely makes an impression.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about choices. What are the consequences of the decisions we make? Why do you think Rory makes the choice he does? Is it understandable? Excusable?

  • What is The Words saying about the price of success? Is this a popular theme in movies? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romantic dramas

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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