A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Raises big questions. Is a soldier's duty to his fellow soldiers, to his family, or to something else? Can a person who hasn't been to war connect with someone who has? Is honor deserving of a certain amount of money? Is war futile?
Positive Role Models
Billy Lynn is a decorated hero who demonstrates bravery in the face of combat. But the movie also argues/shows that his act of bravery doesn't add up to much (he calls it the worst day of his life) and that he doesn't ilike a hero. Some use of negative stereotyping, i.e. calling Iraqis "Haji," talk of gays in the military, etc.
Violence & Scariness
Scenes of intense war violence, with shooting and stabbing, explosions, bloody wounds, and dying. A soldier puts the "sleeper hold" on a civilian. Fighting, punching.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Passionate kissing between a soldier and a cheerleader. Lots of sex talk, strong innuendo. Talk of strippers, oral sex, getting laid, being a virgin, masturbating, etc. Shots of Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, objectified, in skimpy costumes. Ad for erectile dysfunction medicine.
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Very strong language. Many uses of "f--k," "s--t," and various permutations. Also "ass," "hell," "douchebag," "d--k," "penis," "shut up," "butt."
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Products & Purchases
Reference to Red Bull, reference to Hummer vehicle.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters (apparently 19 years old) smoke pot. Characters drink beer. Reference to steroids.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a book-based war drama from Oscar-winning director Ang Lee. Expect heavy war violence, including shooting, stabbing, explosions, bloody wounds, and dying. There's also some fighting back home. A young couple kisses, and there's lots of sex talk (references to "getting laid," strippers, oral sex, being a virgin, masturbating, etc.). Language is also very strong, with very frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," and more. Teenage character smoke pot, and there's some beer drinking and a reference to steroids. Though the movie's ultimate message is up for debate, it raises some big questions and could inspire discussions about war, heroism, and other topics. Some theaters are showing an ultra-high frame-rate version in 3D, which some have said is distracting; the normal 2D version is preferred. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Award-winning director Ang Lee assembles a collection of effective scenes in this serious effort, but it also several moments that don't really work; in the end, it doesn't seem to add up to much. The camaraderie between Billy Lynn and his unit is infectious, and the movie -- based on the novel by Ben Fountain -- has some fine performances, but they're within a vacuum. One of the movie's many points is that other characters don't know how to interact with the soldiers. And so every interaction, whether good or bad, is left with a question mark.
With Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Lee falls into the same trap that so many other makers of war films do; he wants to be respectful of the troops who fight but also condemn the futility and misery of war. The result is numbingly neutral. Technically, Lee's work is fine, but it doesn't help that he insisted on filming in a super-high frame rate and in 3D, which gives the effect of looking extra-fake and being quite distracting. The normal, 24fps, 2D presentation is preferable, but even that can't stop the disappointing after-effect of an otherwise ambitious movie.
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