Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Movie Poster Image
Black-comedy Kubrick classic has violence, dark themes.
  • NR
  • 1964
  • 95 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 21 reviews

A lot or a little?

Parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

As a dark satire on Cold War politics and nuclear weapons, the movie shows the tyranny of politicians and generals on both the American and Soviet sides.

Positive role models & representations

Characters are parodies of their jobs: the pilot as Wild West cowboy, the President as stern bureaucrat, military leaders as "Commie"-obsessed megalomaniacs. 

Violence

It's a comedy about nuclear war; in addition to the mushroom clouds and reports of planes being shot down, there's an off-camera suicide. Gunfire and battle scenes as an army goes to war with itself when trying to reclaim an army base under the control of a delusional general. 

Sex

Many references, beginning with a suggestive opening shot of one plane refueling another. The imagery (and to a lesser extent, the dialogue) create a link between men's sexual impulses and their interest in war. Buck and his secretary (who's wearing a bikini) are clearly having an affair, and the men are delighted with the idea that in a post-nuclear world they may be obligated to impregnate many women. A pilot looks at a copy of Playboy magazine. 

Language

"Damned," "hell." 

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Cigar and cigarette smoking. Soviet leader reported to be drunk. Reference to morphine. 

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. 

User Reviews

Adult Written byJanus Bifrons April 9, 2008
Adult Written by_03Littlebear12_ March 4, 2016
I would give this movie 2 star rating, because it wasn't so good at jokes or any funny humors. The movie is strange but it's pertaining to an even tha...
Teen, 14 years old Written byMovieFan April 9, 2008

Is this supposed to be funny?!

Cause it's not. "Dr Strangelove is regarded as a black comedy classic (I love black comedy, don't get me wrong), but it does one thing wrong. It...

What's the story?

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, DR. STRANGELOVE is the blackest of black comedies -- a Duck Soup for the Cold War era. Lauded repeatedly as one of the best movies ever made, its 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 the movie were to be made today, which details would be changed? Whom do you think the nuclear threat would come from?

Movie details

For kids who love movies that make you think

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