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Boyhood Review Critics


Dave White Profile

The 12-year gamble that paid off. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    One of the most extraordinary films in decades, this family drama is also one of the most ambitious in scope, having taken more than a decade to shoot. Yet it comes across as effortless and unassuming. Boyhood is an epic masterpiece that seems wholly unconcerned with trying to be one.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    On rare occasions a movie seems to channel the flow of real life. Boyhood is one of those occasions. In its ambition, which is matched by its execution, Richard Linklater's endearing epic is not only rare but unique.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    In completing this simple, beautiful project Linklater took his time. And he rewards ours.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    It's the selective but cumulative use of seemingly arbitrary but significant experiences that gives Boyhood its distinctive character and impressive weight.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    Variety Peter Debruge

    With Boyhood, Linklater has created an uncanny time capsule, inviting auds to relive their own upbringing through a series of artificial memories pressed like flowers between the pages of a family photo album.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 16+

Unique, affecting, mature drama about life and growing up.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Boyhood is an extraordinary drama that was filmed over the course of 12 years, following the main character, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), as he grows from age 5 to age 18. Rather than sticking to a standard coming-of-age plot, the movie is more about the rhythms of life itself: trying to get by, making mistakes and moving on. There's strong language that comes in bursts, including "f--k" and "s--t." One sequence involves an abusive, alcoholic second husband. No onscreen violence is shown, but it's definitely suggested, and there's a sense of threat. Sex talk comes up from time to time, and the main character is seen briefly kissing his girlfriend. Teen characters also experiment with drugs and alcohol. Despite the mature content, this is a special movie that, if teens and parents watch together, could spark many fascinating discussions about life.

  • Families can talk about the sequence with the alcoholic, abusive stepfather. How much tension is generated, and how much violence is actually shown? What's the overall effect? Did the movie need to show more or less?
  • Teens occasionally experiment with drugs and alcohol in Boyhood. How does the movie view these sequences? Is it right or wrong for teens to experiment? What are the consequences, if any, of these actions?
  • How early do these characters become interested in romantic relationships? What do they learn?
  • What are some of the lessons learned in this movie? What disappointments or failures did characters have to overcome? How did they overcome them?
  • Did you have any difficulty watching a movie of this length and with this format? How is it different from more mainstream movies?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: No hard-and-fast lessons, but characters do learn from simply getting through life's hardships and disappointments. The mother gives some advice to a man early in the film, and years later runs into him to find that her advice has paid off; she receives his heartfelt thanks.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: These aren't necessarily bad people or good people -- just people. They try to get by, they make mistakes, they learn, and they keep moving on.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: The mother marries a man who turns out to be a violent drunk. There's a suggestion that he beats her; she's shown lying on the floor of the garage, sobbing. He's shown as being angry and threatening, with the children and the mother very clearly afraid of him. Mason receives a shotgun as a present. Characters argue.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Mason is shown kissing his girlfriend. Characters discuss sex and contraception. There's various innuendo, and a possible suggestion of Internet porn, but nothing is shown. The condescending phrase "hunting beaver" is used.

  • language false4

    Language: Strong language comes in fits and starts. "F--k" and various permutations are used a few times, plus "s--t," "bulls--t," "p---y," "a--hole," "penis," "c--k," "ass," "goddamn," "son of a bitch," "bitch," "faggot," "whore," "d--k," "damn," "hell," "piss," "numb-nuts," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). A middle finger gesture is shown. The phrase "hunting beaver" is used.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Various brands are seen in passing over the years: computers (a desktop Apple), and video games (a Game Boy) are shown. Characters play a first-person shooter game on XBox. In one sequence, kids get dressed up to go to the bookstore to get the latest Harry Potter book. Coca-Cola is mentioned. Facebook is mentioned. Gatorade is mentioned/shown.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A secondary character is a dangerous alcoholic; at first he drinks secretly and later openly at the dinner table. He gets angry and abusive and is very clearly a threat to his wife and their kids. As a teen, Mason tries some beer while hanging out with some guy friends. He's later seen smoking pot. Still later, he attends a party with that has Jell-o shots and lots of beer, as well as drinking games. At college, he tries drugs with his roommate. Adults are seen drinking beer and other alcohol socially. The father smokes cigarettes from time to time and tries to quit at one point.