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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Greenland is a disaster movie starring Gerard Butler and Morena Baccarin about a comet that ravages Earth -- and one family trying to race to safety. Violence is the biggest issue, with many images of mass destruction and huge, shocking explosions. Guns are fired, and one character kills another with a hammer (it's seen sticking out of his head). Dead bodies and bloody wounds are shown, a woman is treated roughly, and a child is briefly kidnapped. You can also expect fighting, explosions, screaming, and general panic. The movie hints that a married man may have had an affair and that his wife is still working on whether to forgive him, but nothing is clearly stated. Infrequent language includes a partial, obscured "f--k" and a few uses of "s--t," "goddamn," etc. With blistering suspense and interesting characters who demonstrate impressive perseverance, the movie works far better than most others of its genre.
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What's the story?
In GREENLAND, structural engineer John Garrity (Gerard Butler) lives with his estranged wife, Allison (Morena Baccarin), and their son, Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd), who has diabetes. While trying to work out their troubles, the couple throws a party to watch the arrival of a comet. Unfortunately, the comet isn't as harmless as expected, and it starts causing widespread destruction. John gets a phone call telling him that he's been selected to bring his family to a shelter. Alarmingly, none of his neighbors receive the same call. Upon arriving at the airport, the family discovers that Nathan's insulin is missing. When John goes back for it, the family is separated. Allison manages to leave a message for John telling him to meet her at her father's house. Thus begins a harrowing journey across a dangerous landscape, with time running out.
Is it any good?
This uncommonly good, absolutely harrowing disaster movie elevates the stakes with its effective suggestion of international crisis and its personal touches on social status and martial discord. Stuntman-turned-director Ric Roman Waugh, who previously worked with Butler on Angel Has Fallen, casts the leading man in a different light in Greenland. John Garrity has made a mistake, and he's seeking redemption and forgiveness from his wife. He looks at her, full of pain and regret, and knows he must do anything he can to earn her love back. So after the comet hits, when he's asked to go above and beyond, his actions have a deeper meaning.
The clever idea of only certain people being selected for protection carries a great weight as well, creating instant animosity and guilt among the characters -- as well as more conflict, since the heroes' shelter/protection wristbands make them targets. As a thriller, Greenland absolutely delivers the tension and thrills, with huge visual effects and plenty of intense, dangerous spots that forgo the usual cheesiness of disaster movies. But none of it would have worked without the thought that went into the characters and their connections with one another. Extra credit goes to Scott Glenn as Allison's father, who combines gruffness and tenderness in a tremendously moving way.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Greenland's violence. How did it affect you? Which parts were shocking, and which were thrilling? Why were they different?
What's the appeal of disaster movies like this one? Should we worry about a giant comet crashing into Earth?
What do you think is going on between John and Allison? What values are imparted?
Why does being "selected" or not "selected" in this story raise such feelings of animosity and guilt? Have you ever been "not selected" for something? How did it make you feel? Why?
- On DVD or streaming: February 9, 2021
- Cast: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, Scott Glenn
- Director: Ric Roman Waugh
- Studio: STX Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Character strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of disaster action, some violence, bloody images and brief strong language
- Last updated: February 27, 2021
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