A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, like all of director Quentin Tarantino's work, while this World War II adventure starring Brad Pitt is full of food for thought, it's also brutally violent, bloody, and full of harsh language. Expect cringe-inducing beatings, shootings, and more, plus a non-stop barrage of words like "f--k" and "s--t," constant smoking, and plenty of drinking. The film also takes lots of liberties with history and is very talky -- meaning that teens who watch might alternate between being bored to death and shocked by the gory parts.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Set in 1944, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS follows two parallel stories that quickly converge. In the first, an American group of Jewish soldiers called "The Basterds," led by hard-bitten Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), carries out terror attacks against German troops in occupied France. Meanwhile, in Paris, a theater owner (Melanie Laurent) is approached by a heroic soldier (Daniel Bruhl) to host the French premiere of his propaganda film; what he doesn't know is that she, hiding her Jewish roots to keep safe, is also part of the resistance. As the American Basterds, the French resistance, and the German high command converge on the theater, it's going to be a premiere everyone will remember ... if they survive.
Is it any good?
Bizarre, bold, and bloody, there's no denying that Inglourious Basterds has all the vim, vigor, and excitement of Quentin Tarantino's other films. Detractors will call it an empty exercise in style over substance, and they won't be entirely wrong. But it's also a glorious exercise in style over substance -- a Valentine to the very acts of moviemaking and moviegoing, with the Nazi high command wiped out in spectacular fashion in a movie theater as the action playing out up on the screen begins to pale in comparison to what happens inside the theater.
Tarantino has said that the film is his fantasy of "how cinema can save the world," and while that's a naive sentiment, it's one that's played for action and laughs here. Pitt gives a blood-soaked comedic performance as the grunting, grim Raine, and he's matched by Christoph Walltz's Col. Hans Landa on the Nazi side. Featuring long, loopy conversations punctuated by brief bursts of bloody violence before culminating in a incendiary -- in every sense of the word -- finale, Inglourious Basterds ultimately has to be enjoyed as a piece of pure moviemaking energy. Fans waiting for Tarantino to make a film with the moral and artistic complexity of Jackie Brown or even Pulp Fiction will be disappointed, but those who know what they're in for won't be let down.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. What's the impact of the brutal scenes? Does it make the violence feel surreal or more honest and authentic?
Are there limits on what soliders will and won't (or can and can't) do in the heat of the moment during wartime? Do soliders who participate in a genocide like that of the Nazis against the Jews deserve any mercy?
What does the movie say about the role of filmmaking, press/public relations, and storytelling as part of war? What role does film have in wartime? How can it be manipulated to meet those ends?
- In theaters: August 21, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: December 15, 2009
- Cast: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent
- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 152 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong graphic violence, language and brief sexuality
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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