A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Although the movie theoretically promotes the concept of international cooperation to defeat threats, any true positive takeaway is neutralized by the movie's total divorce from reality and nonstop violent mayhem.
Positive Role Models
Duke and the other G.I. Joes are depicted as hard-fighting-yet-sensitive warriors who are focused on their mission and protecting one another. Their Cobra enemies are painted as wholly villainous (no complex bad guys here!).
Violence & Scariness
Constant extreme -- though generally bloodless -- action violence. A man has a white-hot metal mask affixed to his face. Characters are shot, decapitated, and stabbed and slashed with swords and throwing stars. Characters fight both hand-to-hand and with firearms, and there are intense martial arts sequences. People fall from great heights. Planes, ships, and other vehicles fire on each other with a plethora of weapons and missiles. Lots of general mayhem and destruction. In flashback, children engage in brutal violence involving frying pans, flames, martial arts weapons, and more. A child murders a teacher -- it's off-screen, but the body is seen. Surgical imagery.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing, cleavage, and discussion of "touching."
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Some strong language, including "s--t," "bastards," "piss," "a--holes," "damn," "hell," "bitch," "crap," "goddamn," "oh my God," and more.
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Products & Purchases
The film is based on a cartoon series that itself was based on a toy line (and the movie was actually co-produced by Hasbro, which makes those toys), so you could argue that the whole thing is an exercise in product placement. Other brands visible or mentioned include Hummer, Mercedes-Benz, Double Bubble, and Cisco.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A super-soldier serum lets people "feel no pain" and has implied adddictive and narcotic effects.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this relentless action adventure inspired by the '80s cartoon/toy line is filled with extreme (albeit minimally bloody/gory) violence. Kids will want to see it because they're the ones who play with the toys, but there's no end to the parade of characters who are slashed, stabbed, shot, or dispatched in various other ways. (Unlike in the similarly inspired Transformers movies, most of the victims here are people, not machines). There's also a lot of potentially scary medical imagery -- needles, scalpels, painful-looking procedures, and more -- and some intermittent strong language (including "s--t"). Hasbro, the company that makes G.I. Joe toys, co-produced the movie -- meaning that the story doesn't contain product placement so much as the product placement contains a story. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Too cartoony and childish for grown-up action fans and too violent and grisly for kids, G.I. Joe is an action film whose glossy shine is matched only by its glib cynicism. Combining the globe-trotting style of modern techno thrillers and the cartoony, bloodless, high-tech look of modern effects blockbusters with an unhealthy dose of '80s nostalgia for the original cartoon, G.I. Joe feels like it's trying -- incredibly hard -- to be all things to all people. And so it fails to be anything to anyone. Tatum tries to invest his between-fights dialogue with emotional meaning and sincerity, but it's like trying to stuff vitamins into cotton candy -- futile and messy.
Director Stephen Sommers proved that he could craft decent PG-13 action with the Mummy films; he also proved, with Van Helsing, that he can let his love of effects triumph over the storytelling required to make a real film. Many (infact, almost all) of G.I. Joe's effects-heavy action sequences have the plastic, weightless, meaningless computer-generated emptiness of a video game. And while the costumed, code-named, stylized characters are faithful to the original cartoon, they aren't especially engaging or real beyond their fidelity to the source material.
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.