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The Shawshank Redemption Review

Other Critics provided by

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

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Shouldering a laconic-good-guy, neo- Gary Cooper role, Robbins never quite makes emotional contact with the audience.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    Kudos go to the great Thomas Newman, whose score contributes as much as either lead to what is finally a two-character movie, though one well-performed by all. [23 Sept 1994]

  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Whitmore's Brooks is a brilliantly-realized character, and the scenes with him attempting to cope with life outside of Shawshank represents one of the film's most moving -- and effective -- sequences.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    If the film is perhaps a little slow in its middle passages, maybe that is part of the idea, too, to give us a sense of the leaden passage of time, before the glory of the final redemption.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    This is a movie with every facet shining in place, every word charged and resonant. [23 Sept 1994]

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Gritty but comforting story of friendship.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is rated R for a reason: The gritty world of Shawshank Prison is populated with sadistic guards, a corrupt warden, and predatory fellow inmates. Two characters have sex (their clothes are on, and it's not graphic), one loveable character hangs himself, guards shoot an inmate and frame it as an escape attempt, inmates attempt and, we are told, succeed in raping Andy, and guards beat and kill an inmate in the opening scenes. But the film also shows inmates forming a loving community of friendship and support despite oppressive conditions.

  • Families can talk about the ways oppressed people have kept their spirit historically -- for example, through spirituals created by slaves. How do Andy and Red handle prison differently? How would you handle such a bleak future? Why did Brooks feel more comfortable in prison than out of prison? Why did Andy get Red a harmonica? What did that represent? Why did Red and Andy disagree on whether they should have hope for a better life? Did their class and race affect their approach?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Enduring friendship between a white man and a black man plays a prominent role. Inmates work together, often illegally, to make life more bearable. The warden is corrupt and takes bribes, but it's shown in a negative light.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Graphic scenes of guards beating (and, in one case, killing) inmates, suicide, murder, inmate brawls, threats of male rape, references to such rape.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Sex between two people is portrayed obliquely at the beginning of the movie. Lots of cheesecake photos decorate the prison walls.

  • language false3

    Language: The big cuss words are used liberally.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A group of inmates enjoy some beers, shown as an escape from their dreary lives.