A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is a thriller with an overall theme that may be disturbing to some family members. There are brief grisly images and references to violence and some scary (but well within PG-13-range) surprises. A character attempts suicide and others are killed, including one who is shot. There is brief strong language and brief drinking. The movie contains a reference to "an earthquake in India" that may be upsetting due to current events. And according to this movie, only white, middle class people communicate with each other after death.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
WHITE NOISE stars Michael Keaton as Jonathan Rivers, who is blissfully married to such a completely beautiful and perfect and loving (and newly pregnant) woman (Chandra West) that you know she'll be toast within fifteen minutes after we meet her. Sure enough, after a half-heard "I love you" as she drives away and an incomplete voicemail, she disappears. Her body is found sometime later and it appears that after a car crash, she was severely wounded and unable to save herself after falling into the river. Jonathan notices that a man has been following him. The man says his name is Raymond Price and he has been receiving messages from Jonathan's wife. At first, Jonathan does not believe him, but then, well, it would be a pretty short movie if he was not convinced. So then the real story gets going – about how he starts to get messages from people who aren't actually dead yet and how all of this meddling with powers he does not understand is deeply upsetting to, well, the powers he does not understand.
Is it any good?
The plot of White Noise is not the point -- it's all about the thrill ride, but unfortunately it's just not that thrilling. Every would-be surprise is telegraphed in advance with the most venerable and uninspired of movie cliches, everything that has been done to, um, death over and over and over and then successfully parodied and ridiculed to death in movies from Scream to Scary Movie.
The camera closes in tight on someone, so we know something is happening just outside the frame. The music builds and we know something bad is about to happen. Someone promises not to leave and then he does and...something bad happens. And of course the secret hideout is all drippy exposed beams and sputtering lights. Yawn. This isn't an especially bad movie. It just isn't an especially good one. Jonathan's wife is supposed to be a writer whose latest book is called The Eternal Wait. As I checked my watch to see how much longer the movie was going to go on, I felt that should have been the title of the movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: January 7, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: May 17, 2005
- Cast: Chandra West, Ian McNeice, Michael Keaton
- Director: Geoffrey Sax
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, disturbing images and language
- Last updated: February 6, 2020
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch