To Kill a Mockingbird

  • Review Date: July 14, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1962
  • Running Time: 131 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Masterpiece with crucial lessons about prejudice.
  • Review Date: July 14, 2003
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1962
  • Running Time: 131 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Promotes tolerance and empathy and speaks out against prejudice. Conveys a deep, moving message about the danger of fear.

Positive role models

Atticus Finch is one of fiction (and cinema's) most admirable characters. His actions and intentions are always for the good; his true sense of right and wrong is clearly evident, and he never backs down from what he believes in. He's a great father to Scout and Jem, both challenging them and supporting them. They're upright kids with a strong internal compass.


Scout gets into schoolyard brawls with classmates. Jem is attacked, mostly off screen, and his arm is broken by someone stalking him and Scout. The threat of violence is portrayed through menacing looks and nighttime shadows. A man is falsely accused of rape.

Not applicable

A harsh racial epithet against African-Americans is used by an obvious bigot.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that young children will identify with Scout, but the material might be more than you would want your kid to take in. Preteens will like the story, but mature themes may be confusing for them -- a post-video discussion is advised.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Based on Harper Lee's classic novel (which is often assigned to kids in junior high school), TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is set in a small Alabama town in the 1930s and follows the story of the Finch family -- 6-year-old Scout (Mary Badham); her older brother, Jem (Philip Alford); and their widowed lawyer father, Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck). Two parallel story lines follow Atticus' difficult decision to defend a black man who has been accused of raping a white woman, and the two young Finches' fascination with their mysterious -- and rumored to be dangerous -- recluse neighbor, Boo Radley (Robert Duvall). Atticus and his children face disapproval and worse from those who believe the accused is guilty, with or without a trial. And Scout and Jem discover that someone is leaving strange little gifts for them in a tree near their home.

Is it any good?


This Hollywood masterpiece offers crucial lessons about prejudice and the fears that motivate it. Children will appreciate a movie that respects their intelligence and reaches for the heart without gimmicks and overly cute characters. Peck's Academy Award-winning performance anchors the movie, which is finely crafted with a perfectly balanced script by Horton Foote. A paragon of decency who stands for tolerance and non-violence at all costs, Atticus is also a loving, nurturing father who treats everyone around him, including his children, with respect -- the model parent.

Despite the ugly truths portrayed here, a gentle goodness pervades, even during the darkest of moments. Foote includes more than lynch mobs and courtroom fireworks; he also offers lower key, intimate moments. Like when young Scout questions her older brother about their deceased mother. Or, on a lighter note, when Scout fidgets during her first day of school; the tomboy can't get comfortable in her new dress.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the prejudice depicted in the movie, which is set in 1930s Alabama.

  • What has changed in the United States since the 1930s when it comes to race, and do you think racism still exists today?

  • How has the media's depiction of racism and people of varying races changed over the years?

  • What role can/should the media play in fighting issues like racism?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 25, 1962
DVD release date:January 2, 2001
Cast:Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Robert Duvall
Director:Robert Mulligan
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:131 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of To Kill a Mockingbird 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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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • 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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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 12 year old Written byTsion April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

A Moving Triumph of Moviemaking!

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is based on the book of the same name (which I also reviewed). It's a moving, fictional account of a young girl, her brother, and their lawyer father who live in the bigoted south in the 1930s. The movie follows the book very closely, with many of the same lines. There are only minor changes. Atticus, the father, serves as the best role model in any book or movie I can think of. There is no sex or nudity shown, but an innocent black man is accused of rape and the colorblind Atticus is called to defend him. The trial is handled in mild terms but will be tense for younger viewers. Violence is frequent but is all offscreen. We hear that a man is stabbed through the ribs while stalking children, and we hear the the black man who went on trial (SPOILERS) was shot and killed. There are no real curse words, but "ni***r" is used several times. Though I love the movie, I must say that I liked the book a bit more, because of the Mrs. Dubois subplot, which was deleted in the movie. Gregory Peck is perfectly cast; he is Atticus. Although there is some objectionable content, kids should watch this movie with their parents. It's a must-see for everyone, young or old (though not too young). Highly recommended.
Teen, 15 years old Written bybri123 November 19, 2008

Good movie.

When i started watching this movie the beginning was very slow and dragged on. It was a dull introduction of all the characters. However, it picked up as it went along. I recommend this to ages 13+
Teen, 13 years old Written byFilmFanJ June 7, 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird Review

Incredible masterpiece. Aside from mentions of rape and some racist talk, this is appropriate for children of all ages. However, some children may not be interested. Atticus Finch (played by Gregory Peck) is a great role model. This is an absolute classic and a must see movie. As one of my favorite movies, I highly recommend this.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing


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