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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Heroes step up to defeat evil, even when it's not expected or required. Brings to light often-overlooked women who took on dangerous assignments to help win World War II. Themes include the power of resistance, teamwork, and that one person can make a difference.
Positive Role Models
Role models don't get better than these three courageous, tenacious, and inspirational women, whose gender, ethnic, religious, and physical diversity helped them succeed in their mission. The spies volunteered knowing they had little chance of survival, but their personal integrity and belief in serving the greater good drove them to sign up.
Violence & Scariness
Depictions of realistic war violence, including water torture and beatings. Nazis shoot and hang dissidents. Stabbing. Wails of distress. Glimpse of a pile of dead bodies. Intense peril, with many of the real-life characters not surviving.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A brothel is shown, with the implication that the women outside of it are prostitutes.
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Infrequent language includes "goddammit," "whore," "hell," and "stupid" (not in reference to a person). "Jesus!" is used as an exclamation. Antisemitic sentiment from uppercrust British characters.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Frequent smoking and drinking at social gatherings and strategy meetings. Virginia Hall is shown taking pain pills several times to emphasize the additional pain and difficulty she endured by taking active work when she wore a wooden leg.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Call to Spy is an inspirational historical thriller about three brave women who acted as spies for the Allies during World War II. It's a blueprint for inclusiveness, with the main characters' gender, ethnic, religious, and physical diversity helping them succeed in their mission. This is the kind of movie you want to share with your daughters (and your sons!): The women's integrity, courage, cunning, and gumption are exceptional. The movie includes wartime violence, but the torture, shootings, hangings, and beatings aren't gratuitous or graphic -- they're historically necessary to tell the story. As you'd likely expect due to the 1940s setting, there's plenty of smoking and drinking, including passing mentions of how the Nazi regime banned women from smoking. Language is infrequent but includes "goddammit," "whore," "hell," and more. While World War II ended in victory and the film shows that the spy network's efforts were successful, it certainly isn't a happy ending for all concerned. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Forget James Bond: These three real-life spies are more exciting and inspirational than any fictional creation. Atkins is actually thought to be the inspiration for Bond's Miss Moneypenny. Here she's portrayed as a glamorous woman who was in charge of a spy network made up mostly of men who began recruiting and training women. And most Disney Princesses wouldn't stand a chance against Khan, the real-life Indian princess who saved the world by applying her intelligence in international espionage, enduring torture, and giving her life (rather than secrets) to the Nazis. Finally, the fact that Hall, who was passed over by both suitors and managers because of a limb amputation, went on to become one of the world's greatest secret agents is massively satisfying.
Even if this movie were terrible, it would still be worth watching -- but, thankfully, it's fascinating. It is a different kind of spy movie, though. You'll likely find yourself less caught up in the nuts and bolts of each assignment or the broad strategy. Instead, the focus is on the women's development, from early training, through scary situations they weren't properly prepared for, to becoming leaders. But director Lydia Dean Pilcher makes our hearts race all the same. Some breath-holding moments put viewers' in the women's shoes for a moment, likely wondering how they'd fare in the same circumstance. That's the trick of the film: not just showing us women who are heroes but showing us that we can be heroes, too.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.