A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
Characters are parodies of their jobs: the pilot as Wild West cowboy, the President as stern bureaucrat, military leaders as "Commie"-obsessed megalomaniacs.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cigar and cigarette smoking. Soviet leader reported to be drunk. Reference to morphine.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.