A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Django Unchained comes from writer/director Quentin Tarantino, and if you've seen any of his other films, you know what that means: incredibly strong, shocking "grindhouse" violence and language. Django Unchained (which takes place in Deep South in the mid-1800s) not only features guns, shooting, killing, and spurting blood, but also horrible violence against slaves. Male slaves are forced to fight each other, breaking bones and bashing each other into a bloody pulp. A female slave is briefly tortured, and a male slave is ripped apart by dogs. The "N" word is used countless times, as are other Tarantino favorites ("f--k," etc.). There's some partial nudity (both male and female) and kissing, as well as some cigarette smoking and background drinking. The good news is that this movie takes a matter-of-fact look at slavery, which may get discussions going among older teens and families. But otherwise, this movie is very brutal and not recommended for the under-18 set.
What's the story?
In the mid-1800s, bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) tracks down a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) and buys him -- promising him freedom later -- so that Django can help identify Schultz's next target. The two become partners and friends and eventually embark on a dangerous quest to rescue Django's wife (Kerry Washington) from a plantation owned by the brutal Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). To gain access, the duo must pose as potential investors in a "Mandingo fighting" racket. But Candie's devoted old slave, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), quickly catches on to the truth. Can Django and company escape with their lives?
Is it any good?
Oddly, the rather blank, stoic Django is the least interesting character in this violent, somewhat uneven film. In his previous film, Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino told a masterfully sprawling story of WWII, bending history willy-nilly to find a more truthful center. DJANGO UNCHAINED is even longer and more sprawling but with a much simpler story and themes. It doesn't quite fit. The movie has long, flabby stretches that scream for the cutting-room floor, while the bursts of violence often feel outsized and misplaced.
But occasionally the movie unexpectedly slips into brilliance. These moments are mostly centered around talking and negotiating, which also explains why the quiet hero doesn't always work. But actors Waltz, DiCaprio, and Jackson are all mesmerizing on more than one occasion. Somehow, Django Unchained finally manages to raise some interesting questions, mainly about slavery and how it has historically been depicted (or not depicted) in movies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Django Unchained's brutal violence. Why do you think Tarantino chose to make the violence so intense and bloody? What effect does it have on the movie overall?
How does the movie depict slavery during the pre-Civil War era? What does this movie show that other movies set during that period don't show? Do you think it's exploitative, or will it get meaningful conversations started?
Why do you think actors are attracted to these kinds of vicious roles? What's appealing about them?
- In theaters: December 25, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: April 16, 2013
- Cast: Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio
- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Western
- Topics: History
- Run time: 165 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award, Golden Globe
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.