City of God Movie Poster Image

City of God

Powerful, but only for 17 and up.
Parents recommend
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 130 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Beyond family and close friends, there is little tolerance and most arguments are settled with shootings.

Positive role models

Two strong female characters.


Brutal violence, casual beatings, spousal abuse, frequent peril, and uncountable deaths.


Explicit sexual references, sexual situations including rape and adultery, scenes of couple in bed together.


Strong language, homophobic slurs.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Frequent explicit scenes of drug use, drug dealing, and addiction.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie contains nonstop violence and frequent deaths, including the murders of main characters. In this 130-minute long film, there are only a handful of scenes where the characters are safe from peril and the audience can relax with them. There are explicit references to sexual intercourse and a non-explicit but deeply disturbing rape scene that should not be viewed by children.

What's the story?

City of God, the favela (squatter settlement) for which the movie is named, is one of Rio de Janeiro's most notorious slums. Our narrator is a young boy named Rocket who leads us from the late '60's, when the favela is orderly rows of pre-fab housing for the poverty-stricken, into the early '80's when it has become a warren of bleak apartment blocks that residents can't escape. As young Rocket (Luis Otavio, as a boy, Alexandre Rodrigues, as a teen) watches, the favela dissolves into conditions conducive to crime, the rule of the gun, and, eventually, full-blown turf war. The young favela sports such low grade hoods as the "Tender Trio," comprising Rocket's older brother, Goose (Renato de Souza), Clipper (Jefechander Suplino) and idea-man Shaggy (Jonathan Haagensen). The Trio's antics do not extend beyond stealing fuel from trucks and, after a robbery goes awry, one boy turns to the church while another is taken firmly in hand by his father. But they are replaced by the malevolent Lil' Dic (Douglas Silva, as a boy, Leandro Firmino da Hora, as a teen) and his side-kick, the forgiving Benny (Phellipe Haagensen). When Lil' Dic decides to take control, a series of small scale coups escalate into turf war with Carrot (Matheus Nachtergaele) and "good" man turned vigilante, Knockout Ned (Seu Jorge).

Is it any good?


Brazil's nomination for Oscar consideration is a blood-spattered, non-stop ride as much into the life of a "favela" as it is into the lives of the youths who inhabit it. Although the bulk of the movie narrates the all-out turf wars between two rival drug dealers, the story is deliberately told with the energy, liveliness and digressions of a child's tale, somehow managing to leave us hope amongst the corpses as the credits roll.

It is Rocket, who dreams of becoming a photographer, who leads us through a world which no outsiders dare enter. The other inhabitants may be living their own quiet lives, however Rocket is on the periphery of the action and lives through the turf wars in a deeply personal way. From his first crush to his first camera, Rocket shares experiences both touching and humorous as well as his losses.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the evolution of the characters from children into adults. When the boy nicknamed "Steak & Fries" argues to a crowd of drug dealers that because he has smoked, snorted, killed and robbed, he is a man, the crowd bawls with laughter. It does not matter that the boy, perhaps 10 years old, is only slightly younger than these teenagers. What, besides chronology, does make someone an adult? What choices does Knockout Ned make that turn him from a local hero to just another gangster? The rise of a younger generation of hoods in the form of the gun-toting pre-teens known as "the Runts" presents us with the specter of never-ending violence. What is the future of the favela at the end of the movie? What could stop the vicious circle? What decision does Rocket make about his photographs at the end? Is this what you would have done?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 17, 2003
DVD/Streaming release date:June 7, 2004
Cast:Alexandre Rodrigues, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge
Directors:Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund
Run time:130 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong brutal violence, sexuality, drug content and language

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byllarson April 9, 2008

A beautifully ugly film!

I finally saw this movie after hearing a lot of buzz about the film. I can see why it got a lot of attention, because it is a great film for many reasons. The characters develop perfectly as the story unfolds in a non traditional "tarantino" type order of events. The cinematography was so beautiful that I look forward to seeing the film again. On the other hand, the content is extremeley disturbing. Our main characters come from poverty, and live a life of violence, death, drugs and cruelty. One of the most disturbing aspects of this film is that children are becoming gangsters and "hoods" at a young age, hoping to follow the footsteps of the older gangsters. Although this content is so sad and disturbing, I respect the fact that non of it is glamorized.
Adult Written bychristian2011 January 4, 2013

Oscar-winning and exuberant chronicle of crime!

City of God is one of the most controversial, inspiring and most gorgeous film adaptions in the movie cinema, and is a powerful story of crime and redemption. However, City of God contains very graphic and brutal domestic violence throughout, especially towards children and which some kids whom are resembled to be shooters themselves. Several acts of violence include shooting, sexual assault, torture, stabbing, beatings, and other aggravated acts of crime, mostly depicted from gangs (most involve teens and children). Language is strong and frequent, including explicit references to sex and crude/vulgar dialogue said throughout (f**k, c**k, d**k, c**t, p*ssy, sh*t, pr*ck, etc.) and there are several sex scenes which include people having intercourse in an hotel with orgies loudly present, and a disturbing implied rape scene where a man thrusts onto the camera. There's sequences of graphic drug use where children derived from gangs are seen smoking and doing illegal street drugs (very disturbing to some). City of God is one of the best, most brilliant films out here today, but be aware of the shockingly graphic violent content, pervasive and offensive language, strong sexual content including the infamous rape scene, and drug use in which children are also present doing. Adults only.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written by_____________ September 13, 2015