Charlie Wilson's War

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Charlie Wilson's War Movie Poster Image
Adult comedy takes an incisive look at politics.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 97 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Wilson isn't exactly the poster child for good behavior; he's sometimes lewd and pushy and he's plenty manipulative (so his is friend Gust). But his devotion to the rebel cause appears to be fueled by a need to do some good; when he visits Afghanistan, Wilson is moved to help make change happen. In fact, almost everyone involved in the Afghan cause in Wilson's inner circle seems to truly believe in their mission.

Violence

Some depictions of war violence, including demonstrations and artillery fire. In one memorable scene, a man argues loudly with his superior, then proceeds to break a glass window by hacking at it with a metal bar.

Sex

Charlie Wilson staffs his Beltway office with busty women, and there are plenty of cleavage shots. Even more skin is shown when women and men are naked in a hot tub; nude women are shown from the side and front, and there's a flash of a male backside. Charlie also beds a Texas socialite who wants him to help her political cause. They kiss, take a bath together, and speak in sexual innuendoes.

Language

Frequent use of strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole." Politics is a rough-and-tumble world, and so is the language.

Consumerism

Political names (John Murtha) and causes get plenty of air time, as does signage for locations. TV footage of news segments displays station logos and shows names.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of boozing, in both social and professional settings (Wilson even asks his secretary to give him a drink). There's also a scene in which a crowd snorts cocaine, and everyone appears to smoke as well.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts movie is decidedly adult. For starters, it deals with complex issues connected to political wrangling and Middle Eastern power struggles. And then there's the booze, gunfire, and sexual content (including some nudity), strong language (be ready for lots of "f--k"s)-- it's all here and then some. That said, the movie is also smart, with a main character who's infinitely more interesting than many other people in movies. While it's not perfect, it's still a worthy watch, especially for older teens and adults interested in the political process.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDrTJMc April 9, 2008
Parent of a 13 year old Written bylatenightmom April 9, 2008

entertaining movie about important history

I cannot understand why this film is listed as a comedy. It covers very serious ground while it moves the story along in a witty and entertaining manner. I re... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written by030193 April 9, 2008

Amazing

Amazing movie! There are a few iffy things in the movie though.. the nudity is in the very first scene but it is barely visible because of the water in the hot... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

One of the best movies of 2007...

I went into this with high expectations; alas, I was not disappointed at all. This is an amazing film that will surely clean up at the Oscars. I don't th... Continue reading

What's the story?

Pay attention to the first 10 minutes of CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR. It tells you all you need to know about the titular Democratic Texan congressman (Tom Hanks) who, unbeknownst to many, apparently helped engineer the fall of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by championing ways to covertly fund the Afghani rebels' operation in the early '80s. As the movie opens, Wilson is sitting in a hot tub drinking booze, surrounded by a bevy of naked, busty women (and some ogling men). But he's transfixed not by the bacchanalia around him, but rather by the news unspooling on television: The Russians have invaded Afghanistan. It's a memorable beginning for a fairly entertaining movie based on the book by George Crile, as well as a succinct capsule of who Wilson is: a smart, irreverent, and surprising politico with a penchant for drink and dames. That point is driven home later when right-wing socialite Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts -- great acting, bad accent), who likes to put her money where her politics is, champions the Afghan cause and persuades Wilson to get involved after a quick romp.

Is it any good?

Charlie Wilson is a bold role that demands a bold actor, and Hanks admirably rises to the occasion, aided by Aaron Sorkin's intelligent script and Mike Nichols' breezy direction. Paired with Philip Seymour Hoffman -- who plays Gust Avrakos, the CIA operative who guides Wilson through his cause -- he's giving it all he's got (and effortlessly, too).

But hold the box-office receipts: While Charlie Wilson's War manages to make intricate Capitol Hill and international relations maneuverings fun, it's a little too wonky to fully connect with mainstream audiences. As a one-hour West Wing episode, it would have been a smash. But as a feature film, it falls short, explicating too much and too often and wrapping up a complex issue too neatly in the end. Still, in today's political landscape, there's no denying that Charlie Wilson's War has resonance.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Wilson's motives for supporting the Afghan rebels. Does it seem realistic that he would so quickly devote himself to a cause he doesn't at first appear to understand? Is the movie subject easy or hard to understand? The film is also one in a recent rush of war-themed movies; do you think it encapsulates the issues of the time in a clear and succinct way? Why is Hollywood producing so many war-themed films lately? How do the politicians come across?

Movie details

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