Parents' Guide to

Code Black

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Powerful but bloody documentary about emergency medicine.

Movie NR 2014 88 minutes
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McGarry's film is simultaneously inspiring, powerful, disturbing, and heartbreaking. It's inspiring, because these talented physicians have chosen to work in emergency medicine at a county hospital, when it would have been so much more financially profitable to join a private hospital or practice. It's powerful, because these doctors see patients at their most vulnerable, often on the brink of death, but only for a limited amount of time. It's disturbing, because the doctors are candid about how healthcare is a broken bureaucracy in the United States, and it's heartbreaking, because in today's tough economy, the county E.R. sees so many patients with preventable diseases and ailments that escalate because they don't have general practitioners to care for them on a regular basis.

McGarry doesn't shy away from showing the dirtier, chaotic side of emergency medicine. But the doctors narrating the film reveal that, while the flurry of literally bloody activity in an E.R. might seem chaotic, it's a finely choreographed dance between professionals highly attuned to both the patients and one another's abilities. Despite the many obstacles -- bureaucratic and practical -- involved with offering the kind of care these doctors hope to provide, these trauma specialists prove that one of the toughest jobs in medicine is also one of the most fulfilling.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: June 20, 2014
  • On DVD or streaming: February 24, 2015
  • Director: Ryan McGarry
  • Studio: Long Shot Factory
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Run time: 88 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
  • Last updated: February 16, 2023

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