Jaws Movie Poster Image

Jaws

(i)

 

'70s classic horror tale is still scary as ever.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 125 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

No real positive messages in man vs nature conflict. 

Positive role models

While the main characters exhibit bravery and quick thinking in the midst of dangerous situations, no one emerges as a positive role model. 

Violence

Unsurprisingly, there are shark attacks. Graphic displays of severed legs, bloody hands, entrails, a man getting eaten alive. Graphic photographs of human bodies injured by shark attacks. A dead body emerges from the inside of a sunken ship. 

Sex

Brief nudity -- breasts from teen girls skinny-dipping. References to sex between a married couple. 

Language

"S--t." "Son of a bitch." "Damn." "Jesus Christ." "For Christ's sake." "Half-a--ed." A wife asks her husband if he wants to "get drunk and fool around." 

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teens drink beer and act drunk while at a beach party; they also smoke cigarettes and marijuana. A drunk teen boy passes out on the shore. The three leading male characters drink heavily on a sailboat. Drinking in a bar. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Jaws is the classic Steven Spielberg-directed 1975 film about a great white shark that attacks swimmers vacationing in a New England beach town. Despite having been released over forty years ago, this movie can still give nightmares to younger kids and more impressionable viewers. While the shark itself doesn't look very realistic by today's standards, the discussions between the characters about the frequency and plausibility of shark attacks can be just as frightening as the scenes in which characters are attacked, bitten, and killed. Viewers see severed limbs, bloody entrails, and frenzied panic. There's also teenage drinking and marijuana smoking at a beach party, including a scene where a clearly drunk teen boy passes out on the beach. The three male adult lead characters get rip-roaring drunk on a sailboat. Brief nudity in the form of topless girls skinny-dipping.

What's the story?

At the start of JAWS, during a late-night teen beach party, a girl disappears while swimming. When her remains come ashore, Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) believes it was a shark attack. Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), though, is worried about the effect such news might have on the tourist trade. After a few more attacks, some local fishermen catch a shark. The Mayor ignores warnings from ichthyologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) that the shark the fishermen caught was too small to have been the one in the attacks. Another fatality sends Brody, Hooper, and local fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) off to find the Great White. While an unlikely group to work together -- Quint is simply doing it for the money and clearly disrespects Chief Brody's inexperience and fear of the water as well as Hooper's pedantic college knowledge -- the three slowly begin to bond when they realize that the shark is larger and much more vicious than they could have ever anticipated. 

Is it any good?

QUALITY

This film remains a classic horror movie that transcends the genre and the time in which it was released, and rightfully so. As one of Steven Spielberg's early films, his adept building up of the tension -- heightened that much more by the almost universally known two-note "shark attack" music provided by John Williams -- shines in both the shark attack scenes and in the spaces in which the story is given time to build and the characters have room to develop. Even with a shark that doesn't look terribly realistic by today's standards, JAWS still delivers the suspense and the terror, and is a textbook study on how to escalate tension for maximum payoff. 

In terms of the acting, the chemistry between Scheider, Dreyfuss, and Shaw is still a delight to take in. At the time of its release, it was the highest-grossing box office movie of all time, and continues to remain a staple in American pop culture. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the fact that Jaws is considered the first official "summer blockbuster." What other blockbusters can you think of? What do they have in common? 

  • How is music used to build suspense in this movie? What are some other examples of well-known horror movie soundtracks? 

  • Do you think the violence in the movie was necessary to the story, or was it simply included to provide added scares and horror for the audience? 

  • Do you think this movie still works today, or is it too dated? Why?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 1, 2000
DVD/Streaming release date:July 1, 2000
Cast:Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider
Director:Steven Spielberg
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Horror
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Ocean creatures
Run time:125 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:violence

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written bymad man April 9, 2008

Can You Say Shark?

This was a really great movie that wouldscare anyone under 10. I think the movie did not scare me because the violence and the shark did not look that real.
Kid, 12 years old August 21, 2011

Amazing Movie. Not for the small ones.

Jaws is an amazing movie. I just started enjoying watching the TV 14 shows on shark week and I just watched Jaws last night. I say 12+ for sure but pause on 10 because I don't think littler kids would be able to watch it. Just be careful on the second attack (blood squirts like a gushing fountain), the first is ok, the third all that's graphic is a severed leg, the fisherman boat scene causes a bit of a fright, and the ending... Just be warned for massive blood and screaming. And more blood. Honestly I laughed the whole way through but I don't think many people do.
Teen, 14 years old Written byJadenp March 1, 2011

definitely should be PG-13

Suggested MPAA Rating: PG-13 for strong bloody violence throughout, language, and brief nudity.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing