A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Dr. Strangelove is a 1964 dark-humored satire on Cold War politics and nuclear weaponry directed by Stanley Kubrick. Teens who view this movie may need some background to understand the sense of helpless peril of the Cold War years. They may also need some preparation to understand the nature of black comedy, and some may find it, and particularly the unconventional ending, very disturbing. There is cigar and cigarette smoking and occasional sexualized imagery, including a scantily clad secretary clearing having an affair with her boss. Off screen, a character commits suicide with a bullet to the head. There are some battle scenes involving the U.S. Army fighting with itself after a tyrannical general takes over a base and tries to start World War III.
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What's the story?
IN DR. STRANGELOVE: OR, HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB, Rogue American General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) goes mad and sends planes to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union; he cuts off all communication to the base, and only he knows the three-letter code to cancel the attack. Officials scramble to deal with the situation, but the mild-mannered U.S. president (Peter Sellers) and highly civilized British officer Captain Mandrake (Sellers again) are no match for bloodthirsty General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) and the demented Dr. Strangelove (Sellers again), a former Nazi expert on nuclear weapons. Can the attack be stopped in time?
Is it any good?
Featuring a landmark performance by Sellers, this film is the blackest of black comedies -- a Duck Soup for the Cold War era. Lauded repeatedly as one of the best movies ever made, Dr. Strangelove's sophisticated mix of satire and politics makes it a better fit for teens who can put some of the humor into context. It's a great film to watch as a family, as it's sure to prompt plenty of discussion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the nature of war and peace (begin with Ripper's quote from Clémeanceu about war being too important to be left to the generals) and about the best ways of ensuring an enduring peace.
What do you think of making fun of issues such as madness and nuclear war?
If Dr. Strangelove were to be made today, which details would be changed? Whom do you think the nuclear threat would come from?
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