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The Paper Chase Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 16+

Love of learning is tops in classic law school tale.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Paper Chase is a 1973 college drama that shows its age. While the content is relatively mild -- some discussions between couples in bed, a bit of swearing and drinking -- the story won't be of interest to most kids. Teens might be able to identify with academic pressures, plus the messages that knowledge is its own reward and one must work hard to achieve a difficult goal are all positives for this age group.

  • Families can talk about the themes in this movie. How do you balance academics with free time? Do you think kids are pressured to excel in school? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? What's this movie's perspective?

  • What allows some movies to stand the test of time and others to just feel dated?

  • Does this make you want to apply to Harvard Law School, or does the thought seem terrifying?

The good stuff
  • message true4

    Messages: Knowledge is important. Great achievements take work. Learning is its own reward, and life is about more than just what happens in the classroom.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Hart is a brilliant student, but it's clear that intelligence only gets you so far and he's got to work extremely hard to maintain his grades. He worships his professor, Kingsfield, who inspires equal parts awe and dread, and the instructor uses those feelings to motivate the students to deliver their best work.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: Some heated bickering among stressed-out students preparing for finals. A man is said to have attempted suicide -- he's later seen to be fine, though obviously upset.

  • sex false3

    Sex: A couple has numerous discussions in bed, nude, though no body parts are shown. They're sometimes seen kissing, but never more. Men are sometimes shown from the chest up, talking as they bathe together in a gym-style group shower. Men talk about being horny and trying to "get laid."

  • language false3

    Language: Infrequent swearing, including "ass," "boobs," "s--t" and "piss."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A few scenes feature people drinking liquor.