Downton Abbey: A New Era parents guide

Downton Abbey: A New Era Parent Guide

Fans will forgive the film's many flaws, but casual viewers have no reason to sit through this completely pointless production.

Overall C+

Theaters: The continued saga of the Crawley family and the Downton staff as the Dowager Countess reveals a mysterious past.

Release date May 20, 2022

Violence A-
Sexual Content B
Profanity B+
Substance Use B

Why is Downton Abbey: A New Era rated PG? The MPAA rated Downton Abbey: A New Era PG Some suggestive references, language and thematic elements.

Run Time: 125 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Downton Abbey: A New Era opens with a wedding and closes with a death. In between there is a trip to France, a film shoot on the estate, disclosure of an old romance, a new engagement, and a threat of scandal. Basically, it’s just another day with the Crawley family and their loyal retainers.

Hardcore fans of the Downton Abbey television series will be thrilled to have their favorite characters back on the big screen. After all, who doesn’t want to spend more time with the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) and her acerbic wit? I have never been able to overcome the soap opera feel of the TV show, but I must admit that watching clips of Lady Grantham skewering her conversational victim can be highly entertaining. Sadly, Violet Crawley is mellowing with age and the movie subsequently lacks the acid it needs to compensate for the large amounts of treacle that clog up the story.

Fans will be more forgiving of the film’s many weaknesses, but casual viewers have no reason to watch this completely pointless production. The movie is beautiful to look at, with scenic vistas and wardrobes that are drop-dead gorgeous. Unfortunately, the plot is tedious, labored, and unconvincing; the dialogue is forced; and the story bounces awkwardly back and forth between the scenes set in England and those set in the south of France. This overstuffed film lumbers across the screen for two hours, but feels much, much longer. I gauge how bad a movie is by how long it takes before I start checking my watch. The worst movies have me checking the time ten minutes in: this one had me clock watching at the thirty-minute mark and roughly every ten minutes thereafter. Frankly, all that held my interest were the swoon-worthy clothes worn by the women in the Crawley family, but that’s not going to appeal to a mass audience.

On the bright side, content issues are mild. There are references to potential illegitimacy and possible extramarital affairs. The homosexuality of the butler, Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier), again becomes a plot point but there is no romantic activity aside from brief, yearning glances and a suggested future relationship. Even alcohol consumption is minimal and restricted to social events; smoking is non-existent, which is a surprise in this era where it was commonplace.

The original Downton Abbey film was a serving of English trifle – light, sweet, and insubstantial. In comparison, Downton Abbey: A New Era, feels like a failed Yorkshire pudding - stodgy, heavy, and flavorless. It is no credit to its cooks and deserves to be sent back to the kitchen.

Directed by Simon Curtis. Starring Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Penelope Wilton. Running time: 125 minutes. Theatrical release May 20, 2022. Updated

Watch the trailer for Downton Abbey: A New Era

Downton Abbey: A New Era
Rating & Content Info

Why is Downton Abbey: A New Era rated PG? Downton Abbey: A New Era is rated PG by the MPAA Some suggestive references, language and thematic elements.

Violence: An angry person throws a vase. A character has a peaceful death.
Sexual Content: There is a suggestion that a main character might be illegitimate. A man asks to kiss a married woman who refuses him. A character uses a slang term for sexual intercourse with no detail. There are brief, coded references to homosexuality and yearning glances between two men but no activity of any kind. Married men and women kiss.
Profanity: The script contains a mild profanity and a single term of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use:   Adults drink small amounts of alcohol at social functions.

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Downton Abbey: A New Era Parents' Guide

How does shooting a movie on the Grantham family estate affect Mary and the resident servants? What do they learn about themselves as a result?

The change from silent movies to “talkies” has a profound impact on the actors. Have you seen any technological changes in your lifetime that have had similar effects?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

This film is a sequel to Downton Abbey, which tells the story of a visit to Downton by King George V and Queen Mary.

Gosford Park has a similar English country house setting, but is a murder mystery geared at a mature audience. As a bonus, it features Maggie Smith playing another acerbic widowed aristocrat.

For a 1920s romance involving debunking a psychic’s claims, you can watch Magic in the Moonlight. Blithe Spirit jumps a few years ahead but tells an amusing tale involving a desperate author, his wife, his dead wife, and a medium.

For more 1920s drama, this time across the pond, older teens and adults can watch The Great Gatsby. Another American 1920s tale is Passing, a complex story of race, friendship, jealousy, and death.