Life Is Beautiful is the movie the PG-13 rating was made for. Okay, not literally. That honor goes to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. But it's a movie that fits perfectly into that middle ground between PG and R. It's got way too much going on for the little ones, but teens and above can handle it. You might even argue that teens should see it.
The content of the film is mild by modern standards. Guido says he wants to make love to Dora a few times, some guy mentions a brothel, the violence is minimal and mostly implied, and we think they snuck in a German curse word or two. Actually, that's mild by Indiana Jones standards.
Where the movie takes a hard left is the subject matter. While the first half is a romantic comedy, the second half evokes gallows humor within the systematic, industrialized terror of the Nazi concentration camps. In one haunting scene, Guido carries his sleeping son through the fog and stumbles upon a mass of naked corpses heaped upon each other. It's more abstract than visceral, yet intense nonetheless.
Other difficult subjects include physical and mental suffering, ethnic hatred, and the murder of children and the elderly (again, implied and not shown). It's a lot for younger viewers to process, and honestly, it can be challenging for viewers of all ages. Yet, we think the rewards can be well worth it for the PG-13-and-above crowd.