Box art for Music of the Heart

Music of the Heart

  • Rated PG
  • HD and SD formats available


Two-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep (It's Complicated) stars with Angela Bassett (Notorious) in a heartwarming, acclaimed true story of how one woman's musical gift affected those who least expected it.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 10
Positive messages
4 out of 5
Positive role models
3 out of 5
2 out of 5
1 out of 5
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
1 out of 5

Touching story about a determined teacher has mature themes.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that Music of the Heart is based on the true story of a teacher's struggle to teach violin to inner city kids in Harlem. There are some heavy themes, such as poverty, divorce, a father abandoning his wife and sons to be with another woman, and the discussion (but not depiction) of violence or its consequences, such as the death of a child from a drive-by shooting, and a family going into hiding because of the father's abuse. There is some mild profanity ("bitch" and "hell"). The film is a positive, uplifting look at the positive role of music in the lives of disadvantaged kids, but heavier themes and long run time (two hours) make it best for older kids.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about passion. What are you passionate about? How did the teacher's passion in the film help her achieve her goals?
  • Community plays an important role in the success of the teacher's music program. How did she gather their support? What did it take for her to make her community see how important learning violin was?
  • The film has a big message about not giving up. Why did so many of the kids want to give up learning violin? What do you think made them stick with it? Have you ever wanted to give up on something? Did you? Why or why not? What can you do when you feel like giving up on something difficult?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews


- Beth Jones, Roanoke Times (Virginia), Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fresh: All other credits are pro, with a special nod to Peter Deming's subtly nuanced camerawork.

- David Stratton, Variety, Saturday, January 1, 2000

Fresh: Meryl dominates the proceedings. She simply disappears into the role, and the movie, for all its educational impulses, becomes about watching her do it.

- Derek Adams, Time Out, Saturday, June 24, 2006

Audience Reviews

2 stars

Tries hard, only to overdo the schmaltz. Wes Craven should stick to horror...

- Lemure, Sunday, February 10, 2013

2 stars

Another one of these "teacher goes to the school of hard knocks" types of film. I recall that Richard Dreyfuss did the same thing continuing on the Mr. Chips theme. His film seems unnecessary and Meryl's otherwise good performance seems equally as unnecessary. We've seen this story before.

- fb721890245, Monday, January 13, 2014

3 stars

There is a lot of dramatic credibility attached to this film, which isn't warranted. Yes, Meryl Streep is the lead and she received an Oscar nomination for the role, but this film is less dramatic than much more soapy. This film falls into the sub-genre of "white woman saves inner city children" which also includes "Freedom Writers" and "Dangerous Minds," and overdone and quite manipulative genre that needs to be done away with. You will either find this true story enlightening and sweet hearted or overly dramatic, based on taste or being able to stomach racially motivated storylines. Though, in general, I find these kinds of films tedious and over the top, the last half hour did make me well up. Real life music teacher Roberta Guaspari is inspirational, and her story is at least treated with respect. It is also interesting to note this is the only film Wes Craven has directed that has nothing to do with horror or sci-fi, and for those unaware of his finesse, this is a great showcase of his talents. This is an entertaining film, if a little overdone in its execution.

- FrizzDrop, Sunday, July 20, 2014