Parents' Guide to

Babel

By Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Diverse, globe-trotting film has explicit nudity, violence.

Movie R 2006 141 minutes
Babel Movie Poster: Collage of images of characters and locations from the film

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 16+

Great movie...but not for everyone

I would not have preferred to put an age rating on here, because this one is very subjective to me. I personally love this movie. But I like movies like this. Babel is a thought-provoking drama with an ensemble cast and multiple storylines. It attempts to exemplify the butterfly effect; one seemingly benign action (giving a rifle to someone as a gift) leads to a chain reaction of events around the world. Is it appropriate for kids? It really depends on their maturity level. The aforementioned hyper-sexuality and nudity of a deaf teenage girl in Tokyo, a Moroccan boy peeping on his sister and then masturbating a short while later, and various scenes of realistic-looking gun violence might make it inappropriate for many kids. Other kids may be disturbed by the marriage-on-the-rocks tension between the characters played by Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt, the implied fear of being stranded in a remote village in a foreign country, or the fear of two young kids being left alone in the desert by an adult searching for help. More likely, most teenagers would be bored by this movie since it has very little action apart from a shootout late in the movie, adult themes and fears that kids might not be able to understand or care about, and even the scenes that involve children are heavy on the drama with no sense of fun or excitement. I would recommend parents watch it first and make your own judgment call. I really think this one comes down to a teenager's maturity level and patience for a heavy-handed, slow-paced adult drama.
age 13+

Human and Realistic

Babel shows the very real intricacies of not only communication but of the human experience in general. No, many will never experience the level of trauma depicted in this film, but many of us will experience our own forms of trauma. Babel helps lend a voice to that suffering as well as to life's most beautiful and intimate of moments. There is a lot in this film, but the strongest scenes may be: *A young boy (11 or so) views his teenage sister (she knows and apparently approves) while she undresses and then masturbates to thoughts of her undressing - no nudity shown. *A pair of Moroccan brothers shoot at vehicles to "test"a rifle. An American lady on a tour bus gets shot in the shoulder/neck. The film stays with her storyline and she and her husband have to deal with her injury and government beaurocracy. Good bit of swearing and blood. Later, the boys and their father are involved in a firefight with police. One boy shoots the rifle at cops, at least wounding them, and the older boy is shot and presumably killed. The father is obviously distraught. *A nanny takes her kids over the border to a wedding. There is a scene of a chicken being decapitated for a meal. Its neck is twisted off and then the children chase after it. Some blood. A miscommunication occurs when she tries to bring the kids back into the US. Her nephew panics and dumps her and the children in the desert. They walk and deal with exposure and dehydration. *A deaf-mute teen girl deals with growing up and developing a sex drive in a world where the different are shunned. She exposes her genitals to a group of boys (pubic hair and vulva shown), tries to seduse her dentist by licking his face and then putting his hand between her legs (he tells her to leave), and later undresses completely to offer herself to an older man (he declines, full frontal and rear nudity). Her rear is shown again later. *A group of teens takes a pill each and a few swings of whiskey. Two women smoke. Some adult alcohol use..Not excessive. Some brutal force used by police during an interrogation about a rifle. Some discussion of a character's mother's suicide. A husband helps a wife with bathroom needs. Brief discussion of a baby dying by SIDS. Our children are exposed to so many potentially troublesome concepts every day that we cannot avoid, and we cannot always be there to help our kids process their reactions and feelings. I don't recommend for young children to watch Babel, but with all of the complex themes presented, it is definitely worth a watch for adults who don't shy away from real life and teens who are mature and have a caring, mature adult around who is willing to talk about some hard, real life concepts.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (5 ):

At once poetic, provocative, and plaintive, this film explores people's efforts to communicate with one another. This difficult theme is made easier by Babel's veteran cast, with stalwarts like Blanchett, Pitt, Barraza, and Yakusho bringing gravitas, while younger stars Bernal and Kikuchi easily keep pace. The film's kids also deliver touching performances, with Moroccan son Yussef (Boubker Ait El Caid) standing out with his impish bravado. Uniting these far-flung characters are their respective traumas, as the film covers mature themes with a humanistic lens. By its end, Babel both gathers together and unravels its many strands, allowing that communication may be elusive and misleading but insisting that it's crucial for understanding and healing to take place.

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