Thirteen Movie Poster Image




Explicit peer pressure story for older teens.
Popular with kids
  • 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.

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?


This film has 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

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Teen, 14 years old Written byElodie C April 1, 2013

Every young teen should watch this - emotionally harrowing and will hit home with many.

This film was incredible. I watched a few months ago, and have since watched it over and over! It brought me to tears several times. Drinking, Drugs & Smoking: Throughout the film, Evie and Tracy take a variety of hard drugs including cocaine and smoke regularly, as does Tracy's mother Mel, who is an ex alcoholic. Mel's boyfriend has had a drug problem in the past, and eventually comes to live with them again after rehab. Despite the excessive and irresponsible use of drugs, I would not class this as an issue - drugs are shown as dangerous and the effects of them are highlighted. Language: I can't remember precisely how many, but there were several counts of 'b*tches', 'sl*t', 'sh*t' and many 'f*cking's as well. A Top reading 'I <3 c*ck' is shown. Sex: Oral sex is implied and discussed, the two girls often make out with older boys. Characters dress provocatively and items of clothing with sexual slogans are shown. Sexual innuendo is frequent with a pair of pants reading 'I want a bone'. Mel is shown fully nude, but this is done in a non-sexual and tasteful manner. There are no sexually explicit scenes. Positive Messages & Role Models: Tracy eventually stands up to Evie when Evie's 'stash' is discovered. She behaves terribly to her mother throughout, but eventually seems to mature. All in all, the language is nothing an average 12 year old will not have heard. Parents willing to explain innuendos and sexual discussions to their children should be fine, but otherwise it may be confusing for 12 and unders. With Nikki Reed and Evan Rachel Wood's formidable on screen presences, (particularly the latter, who handles her role with such ease and naturalism its easy to forget she's acting) an excellent cinematic triamph. This will help young teen's put their own actions into perspective and evaluate their own behaviour, and recognise familiar traits. A good message, with underlying themes of feminism and media influence on young girls. Sorry if I rambled, I just cannot stress enough how much you HAVE to watch this film. ***WARNING! It is strongly implied that Tracy my be developing anorexia, with anorexic tendencies portrayed throughout the film. She regularly engages in self-harm also which is shown graphically during the film, which MAY BE TRIGGERING!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
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, 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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