When Harry Met Sally

  • Review Date: December 4, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1989
  • Running Time: 96 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Wit- and charm-filled romantic comedy classic.
  • Review Date: December 4, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1989
  • Running Time: 96 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The short vignettes highlight long-lasting, loving relationships. May create unrealistic romantic expectations for teens, though.

Positive role models

Harry and Sally have their individual quirks about love, relationships and dating, but they are essentially good people.

Not applicable

No sex depicted, but many references to sex and a simulated orgasm.


A few choice words including "f--k."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie, while set against the background of a strong friendship and filled with great romantic role models, contains many references to sex. Though no sex is actually shown, about a quarter of conversation revolves almost completely around the topic. The most famous scene in the movie is a simulated orgasm at a New York deli.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) meet for the first time while sharing a ride from Chicago to New York City. Sally is an uptight, optimistic, and intelligent person, while Harry is a thoughtful, sex-crazed chauvinist. Over a period of 10 years, they bicker, become best friends, and eventually fall in love, answering the age-old question, "Can a man and a woman be friends, without sex getting in the way?"

Is it any good?


Producer Nora Ephron and director Rob Reiner make delightful, timeless romantic classics, and this is their best-known work. Many have tried, but none has succeeded in capturing the charm, wit, and chemistry between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan shown onscreen in this classic romantic comedy. Every element of this film possesses strength, including the script that (supposedly based on Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron's true-to-life on again/off again relationship).

Who can forget such memorable lines as, "Oh, but 'baby fish mouth' is sweeping the nation?" and of course Rob Reiner's mother's declaration of, "I'll have what she's having." This film has a timeless quality that transcends decades, meaning that teenagers may not automatically write it off as an "old movie." As relevant and entertaining today as it was in 1989 and probably still in 2039, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY is one movie not to be missed. Suitable for older teens and up.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about friendships and how people can change over time, premarital sex, and the role sex plays in adult relationships, both marriage and otherwise.

  • Is Harry correct in his theory that men and women can't be friends?

  • How realistic is the outcome of their relationship?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 12, 1989
DVD release date:January 9, 2001
Cast:Billy Crystal, Carrie Fisher, Meg Ryan
Director:Rob Reiner
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:96 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sexual themes and language

This review of When Harry Met Sally 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.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written bydoubleDee. November 7, 2009
Adult Written byDisneyFan April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

One of the Greats!

I love this movie with every ounce of my being, and as I've gotten older, it has taken on new meaning every time I watch it. The whole movie is so perfect--the actors, the dialogue, and the message. Still, after watching it again last night, I know that it isn't something I'd let my 11 year old watch. It's not that he wouldn't understand, and he probably would think it's funny, but the sexual dialogue is just too much. And as far as this movie creating unrealistic expectations about romance--the thing is, most of the time, the guy does not show up on New Year's Eve to profess his love, but sometimes, it does work out that way. It's a lot of fun to believe in happily ever after!
Teen, 15 years old Written byMissE1000 March 21, 2011

Great movie

I really like this movie. If you wanna see it, watch it on TV. The scene with the most sexual references can easily be skipped by parents showing it to their teens. Overall, it's fine, except for one scene. If parents want to show it to their older teen then they can, skipping a scene is simple
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools