A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Characters plot ways to dodge the draft, sneak into the country illegally, and question the government (though all for reasons they deem noble -- i.e. to stop the Vietnam War). Friendship is a key theme.
Positive Role Models
Jude is a determined young man who strives to make something of himself. Lucy is principled and stands up for what she believes are the right causes. They show each other kindness, even when they're at odds. Lucy's brother, Max, forms a strong and loyal friendship with Jude. They all drink and take drugs without any negative consequences, as well as make questionable decisions.
Violence & Scariness
Soldiers shoot at others during the Vietnam War; cops shoot at looters and beat protesters (one main character is bloodied); anti-war extremists build bombs; a quarrel between two men turns physical.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Artistic scenes show two lovers floating in water, naked and kissing; they're also shown in bed (under the covers), waking up together, and locked in passionate embraces a handful of times (deep French kissing). Two scenes show bare breasts, and men's backsides are visible as well. Passing references to promiscuity.
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Runs the gamut from "bastard" to "s--t" and "f--k."
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Products & Purchases
The film is inspired by Beatles music. Some labels of alcoholic beverages get screen time.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters smoke pot and use psychedelic drugs. They also drink quite a bit, from beer to hard liquor.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although there's much to like about this Beatles-inspired musical -- it's visionary, it introduces young audiences to iconic songs, and it addresses important social issues -- some of the content is iffy for teens. Characters drink and take drugs without any negative consequences, and there are a few nude scenes (though they're artfully staged and echo the deep love between main characters Lucy and Jude). Still, teens are likely to relate to the film's powerful messages about the importance of friendships and the need to question authority when lives are at stake. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Across the Universe is an audacious feat for which director Julie Taymor deserves much praise, but the movie falls short. While Taymor's fantastical concepts are admirable, musicals -- even fevered ones like Moulin Rouge -- tend to work better when the singing is organic and the setting naturalistic (as naturalistic as a musical can be, anyway), with characters launching into the perfect song to evoke emotions they need to express. From that perspective, Across the Universe succeeds. But when the film segues into nonsensical bits -- Eddie Izzard's "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," for instance -- it loses its way. Plus, some of the numbers are so stylized that they're best left to the Broadway stage.
An insubstantial script also hobbles the film; despite the grave subject matters it addresses -- war, art, love -- and the fact that characters dabble in sex and drugs, Across the Universe remains lightweight. It's painted in strokes that, albeit stunning, are too broad. By the time the credits roll, it feels less powerful than when it began, and that's a shame. It could have been a contender; as it stands, it's a memorable, wonderful confection with too much unrealized potential.
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Our Editors Recommend
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