• Review Date: January 27, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Explicit peer pressure story for older teens.
  • Review Date: January 27, 2004
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 100 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Complex, tough messages. Tracy's downward spiral is clearly dangerous and painful -- but as a cautionary tale about the dark side of peer pressure, it's harshly compelling. The young characters participate in every kind of iffy activity you can think of -- recreational sex, stealing, lying -- but the consequences of their poor choices are unflinchingly clear. Tracy and her mother have a difficult relationship, and her mom doesn't always make the best parenting decisions, but she clearly loves her daughter very much.

Positive role models

No parent would want their tween or teen following in Tracy and Evie's footsteps. Their list of dangerous behavior is a mile long, and their attitude is terrible. Still, it's clear that Tracy is hurting and vulnerable underneath her brash facade, which makes her an empathetic character. Single mom Melanie is a recovering alcoholic who's often at her wits' end about how to deal with her daughter, but she never stops loving her.


Self-destructive, high-risk behavior. We fear for the consequences on these kids. Tense family scenes, peril.


There's graphic sex and nudity with thirteen- year-olds.


Extremely strong language throughout.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teen drug use, drinking, smoking, adults in AA.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie's R rating comes from frank and explicit -- but thoughtful -- treatment of the subject matter -- how peer pressure can lure kids away from their moorings and their families. Characters constantly use very strong language. Teenagers engage in every possible self-destructive behavior -- they smoke, take drugs, steal, lie, and pierce their tongues and belly buttons. They have sex that is so casual it is almost anonymous. There is also adult substance abuse and every one acts out. There are very tense family confrontations. This is a good example of how the MPAA rating system fails, because there are stupid comedies that deal with the same issues as this movie that are rated PG-13. This movie --if your teen can handle very mature subject matter -- deals more intelligently and forthrightly with the consequences of the behavior it depicts than some PG-13 offerings.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

They say that the two worst years of a woman's life are the year she is 13 and the year her daughter is. We get to experience both at once in THIRTEEN, about 7th grader Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), who's catapulted into self-destructive behavior because she wants so badly to be accepted, to be cool, and to numb some of the pain of growing up. Tracy lives with her brother Mason (Brady Corbet) and their mother, Mel (Holly Hunter), a loving but damaged recovering alcoholic who does her best to support the family. On the first day of 7th grade, there are always a couple of kids who really hit the puberty jackpot over the summer. Just as the rest are at their most clumsy, insecure, and vulnerable, those impossibly sure and golden kids appear to have arrived at the destination while everyone else is still trying to find the map. For Tracy, it is Evie (co-screenwriter Nikki Reed), who seems to have everything she desires. So when Evie introduces her to drugs (taking them and selling them), shoplifting, body-piercing, lying, and sex, it seems a small price to pay for feeling accepted or, to use a word that is only used about teenagers or celebrities, "popular."

Is it any good?


Reed and first-time director/co-screenwriter Catherine Hardwicke have given this film great strengths -- particularly its authenticity of detail and its genuine commitment, even tenderness, toward its subject matter. This really shows in the performances. Hunter is fearless in revealing Mel's fragility, her generosity, and the deep, deep love for her children that grounds her. Wood is breathtakingly open; every ounce of the joy and anguish she feels in heart-breaking relief on her face. Wood shows us Evie's wounded child inside the cool manipulator. The script has some particularly subtle and perceptive moments, especially when Tracy's father keeps asking for the problem to be explained to him "in a nutshell."

On the other hand, it would be nice if Tracy didn't have to take on every single one of every parent's worst nightmares; in addition to substance abuse, sexual involvement, lying, stealing, and failing in school, she develops an eating disorder and cuts herself. There are enough teenage problems in this movie to fill a decade's worth of after-school-specials. But the film's weaknesses are the weaknesses of youth and inexperience, and that is actually very appropriate for the subject matter.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how easy it was for Tracy to slip away from everything she had learned. Why was Evie's friendship so important to her? Why was Tracy important to Evie?

  • Why was it so hard for Mel to say "no" to anyone?

  • If you decide to watch this movie with your teen, be prepared for frank discussions

  • afterward.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 21, 2003
DVD release date:January 26, 2004
Cast:Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter, Nikki Reed
Director:Catherine Hardwicke
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:drug use, self-destructive violence, language and sexuality

This review of Thirteen was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay 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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Adult Written byIntegrityDad April 9, 2008

Do Not Allow Your Teen To See This Movie

The MovieMom missed the mark on this one. Although it attempted to make some kind of a point right at the end, by then we have been subjected to enough rebellion, graphic sexuality, drug and alcohol abuse, disrespectulness, filthy language, chaos, self destruction, teen anarchy and immorality, to leave us numb and feeling like we need to take a shower. The review of this movie misses the point. We don't need this kind of barrage on our moral senses just so we and our teens can "learn a lesson" in the last few minutes of the movie. This film crosses so far over the "titillation" line that we feel dirty just watching it. We don't need to be made to live vicariously through these amoral and degenerate characters to understand that our teenagers need love, supervision and discipline and to stay away from drugs, sexual promiscuity and destructive behavior. I'm sure the creators of this horrible excuse of a movie ultimately wanted us to come out of it with the "this is what you DON'T want your teen to turn out to be" message as it's desperate redeeming hope. It fails miserably. Avoid it at all costs and DO NOT take your teenager to it under any circumstances. Instead, love them, spend time with them and talk with them about important values and issues. Shame on 20th Century Fox and Catherine Hardwicke.
Teen, 16 years old Written byeElvis4e April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Thirteen the movie

Hi and i just wanted to say that when some parents watch this movie then need to realize that not all thirteen year olds do this and yes you need to be careful and watch for the behaviors but you cant just assume that your 13yr old is doing this its not true alot dont do this at all but yes there also is alot that do just trust your kids and watch out for them but dont become over protective and you need to let them sometimes realize whats bad for them from experiences they will never learn from you just telling them sometimes they need to see it in a bigger picture so watching this movie will show them but also watch for that behavior... thanks and i hope you learn from this... and if you rent it dont get mad at them for watching it you rented it and they should see for themselves ... thanks
Teen, 14 years old Written byMissBee26 July 9, 2010


Its very iffy but i think its a movie all 13 and up should see. It shows what could happen if you get involved with the wrong crowd in a very real way. It was really good.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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