An Officer and a Gentleman Movie Poster Image

An Officer and a Gentleman



So-so coming-of-age military flick; not for kids.
  • Review Date: October 31, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1982
  • Running Time: 124 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Suicide is a main storyline and there are several scenes depicting graphic fighting in the context of military training.


Brief nudity (male and female), much graphic dialogue related to sex.


Racial and ethnic slurs, homophobic comments, a whole lot of cursing.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A lot of drinking, but there is discussion of consequences.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film contains some brief nudity (female breasts and buttocks, male buttocks) and explicit sexual dialogue. The military training sequences involve homophobic and racial slurs as well as fistfights. Several of the female characters are depicted as trying to get soldiers to impregnate them. Characters drink heavily. In addition, one of the main characters commits suicide.

Kids say

Not yet rated
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What's the story?

In AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, Zack Mayo's (Richard Gere) mother commits suicide, and he's left to be raised by his drunken philandering soldier father. Unfortunately, Zach's dad treats him more like a drinking buddy than a son. After college graduation, Zack follows in his father's footsteps by enlisting in the Navy's flight school. The majority of the film chronicles Zack's time in basic training -- the friends he meets, the battles he fights, the mistakes he makes, his inability to fully commit to girlfriend Paula (Debra Winger), and the father figure he finds in Sgt. Foley (Louis Gossett Jr.).

Is it any good?


At the heart of this passable drama is a boys-becoming-men theme, as well as father-son relationships, be they in the form of an alcoholic parent or an intimidating drill sergeant. Herein lays the film's most problematic message -- that physical intimidation, psychological bullying, and outright degradation are okay in the frame of military service.

In this equation, women are depicted very poorly. Paula and Lynette are painted as trashy, scheming girls on the make. They try to entice soldiers into sex, marriage, and commitment against their will. The vulgar language, sexual overtones, and predatory nature of these relationships make this film too intense for young viewers. At the same time, families who watch this together could discuss these behaviors -- and how they relate to both men and women in the military.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the relationships that Zack has with his father and with Sgt. Foley. Who do you think he looked up to more? Is Zack treated fairly by Sgt. Foley? Families could talk about the depiction of female characters in the movie. How are Paula, Lynette, and Seeger portrayed differently? Why did Seeger have a hard time in the military? How is she different than both Paula and Lynette?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 28, 1982
DVD release date:December 12, 2003
Cast:David Keith, Debra Winger, Richard Gere
Director:Taylor Hackford
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:124 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and nudity

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byBestPicture1996 November 30, 2014

Surprisingly explicit 80s fluff

As it was about to expire on Netflix, I thought I'd give this 80s staple a go. I did know the ending going in, but I think just about everyone has seen the romantic climax (I won't spoil it though). This movie surprised me with its kinda graphic nudity and frequent swearing, especially one scene where Richard Gere calls a woman a particularly nasty name. The acting is fine (though I don't see why Louis Gossett Jr. won the Oscar), but it feels like a very old fashioned movie with sex and swearing thrown in to make it look cool. Still, if you love the 80s and all the melodrama associated with it, you've probably seen this movie 80 times.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written byChuck Reid March 27, 2012


This movie was excellent! It had great characters and a great plot!


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