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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the second in the Indiana Jones series -- along with Gremlins -- is the reason the PG-13 rating was ultimately created. In addition to the fights that marked the first Indy movie, this one also has potentially nightmare-inducing scenes of things like a man's beating heart being torn right out of his chest. Children are also worked near to death in the mines, and there are lots of gross-out activities -- none more nauseating than the eating of monkey brains and live snakes. There's also a bit of language and some flirting/sexual banter.
What's the story?
Set before Indiana Jones tangled with the Nazis over the lost ark, INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM finds the archaeologist-adventurer on a mission to recover another priceless artifact and rescue enslaved children. After a narrow escape from Chinese gangsters, Indy (Harrison Ford), nightclub singer Willie (Kate Capshaw), and precocious 12-year-old Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) are asked by humble villagers to take on the Thuggees, an evil cult that practices human sacrifice. Indy and his friends face trained assassins, mind control potions, enormous bugs, and a wild ride in a mining cart as they try to retrieve the village's sacred stone -- and their kidnapped children -- from evil Mola Ram and his gang of Thuggees.
Is it any good?
Despite superior chase sequences and dazzling stunts, this loud and frenzied sequel is mostly an exercise in excess. It's loud, creepy, violent, and, at times, incoherent. While the pacing and tone of the first movie felt spot-on, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom never really finds its rhythm. What the movie does have are some of the best stunts of the series, as well as outstanding chases.
Intrigue quickly disintegrates into endless pandemonium and the antics of two annoying sidekicks who never stop shouting and shrieking. Ford, so effortlessly heroic in Raiders, just seems mean in this film. Children will probably like Short Round and the movie's silly elephants, but parents should note that PG-13 rating was invented for this movie, after so many children who went to see it had the living daylights scared out of them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about stereotypes in movies. Do you see any stereotypes in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? How can a stereotype be fun -- and how can it be offensive? Where do you draw the line?
What does Indiana Jones stand for? If he's a good guy, why does he break the rules? Is that OK? What separates him from the "bad" guys? Are real-life bad guys as thoroughly evil as the ones in movies?
Talk about the history behind the PG-13 rating. Do you think it was a good addition to the rating system? Why do you think this movie contributed to that decision?
- In theaters: May 23, 1984
- On DVD or streaming: October 26, 1999
- Cast: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan
- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: violence
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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.