Box art for Side Effects

Side Effects

drama, thrillers

Channing Tatum, Rooney Mara, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones star in Steven Soderberghs psychological thriller about an experimental drug that has chilling and deadly side effects.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
1 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
3 out of 5

Thriller's twisty plot overshadows thought-provoking themes.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects is a twisty thriller centered on psychiatry and antidepressants. There's murder (by stabbing) and blood, as well as some argumentative, aggressive scenes in hospitals. The main character appears topless and mostly naked and participates in more than one strongly suggestive sex scene with her husband; there are also sensual scenes between two female characters. Language is strong but not constant and includes a few uses of "f--k" and "s--t." Drugs are perhaps the movie's main issue, with the main characters taking many different types of prescriptions and reacting in various ways. The movie never really seems to endorse or condemn these drugs, leaving it up to the viewer to decide. Older teens may find the questions the movie raises interesting, and it may open up important discussions with their parents.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about how Side Effects depicts prescription drugs. Does it make antidepressants and other medications look appealing? Do the consequences seem realistic?
  • What is the movie saying about turning to medication as a solution for problems? How much work does the main character put into getting better, and how much of it is the responsibility of the pills?
  • Talk about the major violent scene. How necessary was it to the story? Does it add or take away from the movie's themes?
  • Which of these characters (if any) did you end up rooting for? Are any of them role models?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 20
    see all Side Effects reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: Like a gel cap in a sip of orange juice, the psycho-pharmacological thriller Side Effects goes down easily, even if its long-term impact turns out to be barely discernible.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fresh: As a thriller in the Hitchcock mould, 'Side Effects' is great fun: its characters are well acted without being entirely likeable, which makes their jeopardy all the more enjoyable while putting us at a clinical remove.

- Ben Walters, Time Out, Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fresh: A crafty teaser that presents itself as one kind of film before gradually evolving into another kind altogether. I, for one, enjoyed both enormously.

- Christopher Orr, The Atlantic, Monday, February 11, 2013

Audience Reviews

4 stars

"Side Effects" may become increasingly silly and improbable over time, but there's nothing quite like an old-fashioned suspense movie, especially when it has a writer, director and cast of this caliber.

- fb791220692, Thursday, May 23, 2013

4 stars

Said to be Soderbergh's last ever film, this post-modern Hitchcockian thriller would certainly conclude his oeuvre on a high and impressive note. Starting off really slow and almost repellently unremarkable, I first wondered if it was going to be another overrated sleeping pill. Just as I was about to lose my patience, however, it rapidly shifted gear, escalating into a devastating turn of events and a superbly intriguing mystery yarn you feel compelled to see unraveled. Besides the top notch acting (with Rooney Mara and Jude Law really playing things to the hilt), figuring out this puzzle box to Thomas Newman's enhancing music score is a stimulant that will really make your day. It's only side effect: an apparent risk of melancholy as this could very well be where the Soderbergh train makes its final stop. My prescription: check it out. Because I don't need to be on any medication to say that this is my personal favorite film by him since the suave and classy Ocean's Eleven.

- CloudStrife84, Wednesday, May 15, 2013

3 stars

This might not be nothin more than a routine thriller from Steven Soderbergh, but it is also a thriller with delicious twists and eerie calculated style. It is interesting to see someone like Soderbergh dive into this kind of genre but i myself hoped that he would go much further into it than he actually did. Scott Z. Burns' screenplay does serve a nice play of powers between the leading trio, but too often it focuses on pharmaseutical facts and feels a bit too preachy about the possible corruption behind the big medical corporations that create drugs for people who suffer from mental illness. There are strenghts in Burns' screenplay and it plays quite effectively with viewers expectations, but ultimately it cannot live up to it's expectations. There were moments in Side Effects which reminded me of films of Brian De Palma, but Soderbergh's clinical approach did not go well together with those moments and too often when things were supposed the get more suspenseful the end result felt too flat to gain real thrills. There are some typical trademarks of Soderbergh's in here. His cold and hypnotic way to approach the story is something we've seen in many of his films and there is also a highly moody score made by composer Thomas Newman. Overall this is a film that will keep you most likely entertained for it's entire running time, and it is never boring, but honestly we have seen these kind of films made so much better earlier that in the end Side Effects is more closer to an average entertainment than something truly unique as a film.

- emilkakko, Thursday, May 9, 2013