Attack the Block

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Attack the Block Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
British sci-fi action movie is clever but gory, druggy.
  • R
  • 2011
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 14 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Former adversaries learn to work together to battle a greater threat, and in the process they learn to respect and empathize with one another. They exhibit teamwork to triumph over some terrifying odds.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Teamed up against a greater threat, the heroine holds a grudge against the muggers for a long while but eventually comes to see their true personalities, as well as their bravery. The street thugs eventually show themselves as good-hearted kids, with a great deal of built-in pride and bravery. Their leader especially turns things around with his selfless acts and heroism.


Strong (albeit cartoonish) sci-fi violence, with several battles against monsters from outer space. Monsters are killed, as are some humans; images include severed heads, face-ripping, throat-ripping, leg-biting, spurting blood, and other gory scenes. Viewers see knives, swords, guns, and various other weapons (including a rocket).


Occasional sexual innuendo.


Very strong, almost constant language, including nonstop use of words like "f--k," "s--t," "t-ts," "balls," "pube," and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Pot smoking is a major pastime in the teen characters' lives; some are stoned throughout the entire movie. They hang out with a drug dealer, who keeps a special room filled with pot plants.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this smart but violent UK alien invasion movie from some of the folks behind cult faves Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz features lots of cartoony sci-fi monster battles, with heavy gore (expect to see severed heads, spurting blood, limbs being torn off, and more). Language is likewise strong, with streetwise teens constantly using "f--k" and other words, and pot-smoking is a major event in the characters' lives -- some of the teens spend the entire movie stoned, and they hang out with a drug dealer who keeps a special room filled with pot plants. Beneath all of the iffy stuff, though, there are messages about working together and learning to respect others.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byEpicReviews August 31, 2020
Adult Written byLuke A. December 25, 2018

Underrated Masterpiece

This movie is great for teens! It shows usual stuff you'd see in hood culture ( violence, drugs, and profanity ) but it shows a great turn for the great or... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 19, 2020
This movie is very good be prepared for non stop cussing and lots of violence fuck is used a lot and shit smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byDocter Dee March 29, 2020

I watched this film since it came out.

This is one of my favourite films of all time. It's darkly comedic, it's gory, and in a whole it's fun.

What's the story?

While talking to her mum on her cell phone, nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker) wanders down the wrong street in South London. A group of masked teens -- led by Moses (John Boyega) -- mugs her, but their task is interrupted when something strange falls from the sky. It turns out to be an alien, which the teen thugs decide to find and kill. Unfortunately this act inspires revenge from above, and soon the neighborhood is under attack by an increasing number of angry beasties. By a strange twist of fate, Sam unexpectedly finds herself teamed up with Moses and her former muggers -- as well as a couple of oddball pot dealers -- facing off against the aliens. Can this ragtag band find a way to defeat the invaders and save the earth?

Is it any good?

After a series of dull, brain-dead alien invasion movies (Skyline, Battle: Los Angeles, Transformers, etc.), ATTACK THE BLOCK manages to be fresh, frisky, and surprising. This is UK writer/director Joe Cornish's his feature debut after a career in television (he also co-wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin). No, the visual effects aren't terribly impressive, but they're also not crucial -- the movie's focuses instead on the quirky character dynamic and the related social ramifications.


The film's theme is perception -- not only how humans perceive the aliens, but also how humans perceive each other. But this canny commentary is (cleverly) hidden amid an onslaught of gore, sly humor, and stoner humor. Exciting, entertaining, and rewarding, this movie (which was co-produced by Edgar Wright, the director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) has everything except a huge summer marketing campaign.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. What effect does it have? How does it feel when characters die? Would it have a different impact if the movie had a more serious tone?

  • What does the movie have to say about inner city teens? Are they "bad" kids or "good" kids? What makes them do iffy things?

  • How does the movie portray drug use? What are some real-life consequences of similar activities?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi

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