Attack the Block Movie Poster Image

Attack the Block

British sci-fi action movie is clever but gory, druggy.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.

Not applicable
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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:July 29, 2011
DVD/Streaming release date:October 25, 2011
Cast:Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Nick Frost
Director:Joe Cornish
Studio:Screen Gems
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:creature violence, drug content and pervasive language

This review of Attack the Block was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written bybill colins September 10, 2011

This film is great - belive.

Greatfilm with very witty dialogue. This film is a fun escape and appeals to teenage boys in particular. The main thing to remember here though is these hoodies a real thugs. Violence is a way of life so when the aliens come a good weapon is at hand and the gang mentality is scarily factual. 'yeah mum i'm just playing soccer' says one as they are robbing a single defensless female. A good point to make with the wannbe hoodies in your middle class family. They may be the good guys now but they are in reality thugs. But letting it all go and enjoying the ride is what this movie is about and what a ride. Mini bike getaways, firework rocket missles and near misses as the glowing teeth just skim by. Gore and death are detailed and a few horror moments make it a nightmare enducer for the 13 and unders. Lots of pot smoking and time spent in amongst a hydro room set up but again some classic lines takes the edge of it all. Great indie flick. .And look out for mayhem - wickid.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byBlastAr April 2, 2012

Attack the Block is action-packed fun for mature teens and up.

Violence: 4/5 Constant threat, including a mugging. People are attacked brutally by aliens, and we see the aftermaths (severed heads, mangled bodies, blood sprays). Aliens are killed but this isn't horribly graphic (think PG-13 level). Language: 4/5 Many uses of f*ck and it's derivatives by kids, teens, and adults. As well as uses of sh*t and milder terms. Drug Use: 3/5 Teens smoke weed and are around weed in many scenes. One character has a "weed room". Total Explicit Content: 11/15 My Rating: 15+ for bloody violence, language, and drug material.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byattacktheblock1962 September 7, 2013

great great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i seen it and im 9 i live in n ireland its 15 there it real great where would a kid get drugs let your kid wathch it
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking