A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is the sequel to the much-maligned but financially successful G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, though it has many different characters (and, frankly, is far more entertaining, in a guilty-pleasure way). Like the first movie, Retaliation was inspired by the '80s cartoon/toy line and has constant (albeit minimally bloody/gory) action violence. Kids will likely want to see it because they're the ones who play with the toys, but there's a ton of fighting, punching, chasing, and explosions. And the city of London is systematically destroyed in one sequence, with apparently no consequences. A sexy female member of the team twice dresses in revealing clothing to distract men and get necessary information. She also undresses while a member of her team tries not to look. Language is limited to "hell" and "ass," though there are also two middle-finger gestures and one interrupted "mother-." While revenge is a running theme/motive, there are also messages about teamwork and characters learning to better themselves. Ultimately, because this sequel takes itself less seriously than the first movie did, it has a bit less edge and is a better fit for teens.
What's the story?
Sent on a mission to Pakistan, the G.I. Joes -- led by Duke (Channing Tatum) -- find that they've been set up. After a brutal surprise attack, only Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), and Flint (D.J. Cotrona) survive. Looking to avenge their fallen comrades, the trio discovers that the evil plot goes all the way up to the president of the United States (Jonathan Pryce). It turns out that the remaining members of the evil organization Cobra are controlling the White House in an effort to take over the world with a terrifying new weapon. Joined by old friends, old enemies, and some new allies, it's now up to the ragtag team of Joe survivors to save the world.
Is it any good?
This much can be said: The story moves well and offers up the occasional surprise, and the film never takes itself too seriously. With director Jon M. Chu -- who's experienced in making musicals -- taking over the G.I. Joe franchise from the sloppy, noisy Stephen Sommers, G.I. JOE: RETALIATION has a great deal more grace and goodwill than its predecessor.
The plot and dialogue are absolutely ridiculous, but the movie seems aware of all that, and it inspires more giggles than groans. And fortunately, things move quickly enough that any questions of logic -- did London really just completely explode? -- never really come into play. It helps that most of the cast, notably Johnson, Bruce Willis, Pryce, and (in a smaller part) Tatum seem to be having a good time. Serious fans of G.I. Joe may be disappointed that this entry all but ignores many of the characters and events of the last film, but for plenty of others, that's a step in the right direction.
Talk to your kids about ...
It's also worth talking about the consumerism side of things. What do kids make of the fact that this is a movie based on a line of toys? Is the movie's goal to sell more toys? If not, what is it?
How does teamwork play into the movie? How well do these characters work together? How do their strengths and weaknesses mesh?
When Jaye uses her sex appeal to get information, what message does that send? How is using her body in this way different from using your body in a fight or a battle?
- In theaters: March 28, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: July 30, 2013
- Cast: Adrianne Palicki, Bruce Willis, Dwayne The Rock Johnson
- Director: Jon M. Chu
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of combat violence and martial arts action throughout, and for brief sensuality and language
Themes & Topics
For kids who love action
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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.