King Kong (1976)
By Scott G. Mignola,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
'70s remake has violence, language, brief nudity.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No real positive messages in typical 1970s blockbuster "disaster" movie.
Positive Role Models
Stereotypical ditzy blonde and the men who shamelessly ogle her are worthy of a few winces. While paleontologist character offers understanding and empathy concerning the islanders who have lived with Kong, this message is likely to be overshadowed by stereotypical depictions of indigenous people on the verge of offering female human sacrifices to Kong.
Violence & Scariness
Kong tears jaw off a fake-looking giant snake. Shoot-out finale goes overboard on squirting blood. Several characters fall to their deaths while trying to walk across a large tree branch between cliffs that Kong starts to twist before they get to the other side. Helicopters crash into the World Trade Center. Kong throws a subway train. Explosions. Machine gun fire. After Dwan is rescued, oil executive character tells her that Kong wanted to rape her. Paleontologist character calls the oil executive character an "environmental rapist." Kong stomps and kills one of the characters.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Scantily clad natives thrust suggestively during a ritual. A fleeting glimpse of breasts. Kong is in love with his female hostage and some of their scenes together are erotically charged. Dwan, the "damsel in distress," informs her rescuers that she was on the ship's deck instead of watching an infamous 1970s pornographic movie in the cabin when the ship exploded. Speaking disparagingly of native islanders and their rituals, oil executive says that the priest "dresses up like an ape and gets laid."
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Occasional profanity, including "a--hole," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "bitching," "goddamn," "candy-asses," "bastards."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Character drinks from a whiskey bottle. Beer drinking. Cocktail drinking. Cigarette smoking. Pipe smoking. During a ritual sacrifice, Dwan appears to be drugged before she's offered to Kong.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that King Kong is a 1976 remake of the classic 1930s movie. This version is part of the "disaster movie" genre that was popular for a time in the 1970s, with an all-star cast (Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange, Charles Grodin) and bombastic violence and cheesy special effects. Brief nudity includes breasts. Scantily clad natives thrust suggestively during a ritual. Kong is in love with his female hostage and, as hard as it is to believe, some of their scenes together are erotically charged. There's some talk of sex, and sexual references, plus mention that Kong intends to rape a woman. Helicopters crash into the World Trade Center. Kong throws a subway train. Men fall to their death while trying to make a perilous crossing between two high cliffs. Some drinking (whiskey, beer) and cigarette and pipe smoking appear. Some profanity throughout includes "a--hole," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "bitching," "goddamn," "candy-asses," and "bastards." Kong tears the jaw off a fake-looking giant snake. The shoot-out finale goes overboard on squirting blood.
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King Kong (1976)
Based on 3 parent reviews
Raunchy film is too much for kids
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Very intense is yet very good!
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What's the Story?
In KING KONG, an expedition to a mysterious fog-shrouded island turns up not fuel oil, as Petrox emissary Fred Wilson (Charles Grodin) had hoped, but a giant ape, which only stowaway Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges) had anticipated. The ape, who the natives call Kong, falls for the crew's only female, Dwan (Jessica Lange), and stomps off with her. Not wanting to leave the island empty-handed, Wilson comes up with a scheme to capture Kong and use him as a Petrox promotional gimmick. They capture him and ship Kong to New York, where he breaks loose, nabs Dwan again, and shimmies to the top of the World Trade Center for the inevitable final showdown.
Is It Any Good?
Stars Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange do what they can to keep this film afloat, but a hokey script and uneven effects nearly sink the boat they rode in on. The overblown love angle between Dwan and the giant monkey is laughable, with scenes of Kong leering at his little blonde handful, washing her in a waterfall, and blow-drying her with his hot simian breath. The scene in which Kong's giant unwieldy finger tries to peel her like a banana made the cover of TIME Magazine and helped make the movie a huge success. That Jessica Lange overcame this debut to become a serious actress is a testament to her strength.
By today's standards, the pacing and the effects in Kong Kong are less than dramatic, certainly no match for Disney's Mighty Joe Young (another remake of a classic giant ape movie). Still, there's plenty here for young viewers to enjoy. They won't mind the tacky dialogue, or seeing Charles Grodin inexplicably cast as the unfunny villain who exploits Kong for money. Kids might even come away with an appreciation for the movie's vague environmental message: that rare animals should be treated sensitively, not paraded around in cages.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about monster movies like King Kong. What's the fascination with seeing oversized, threatening monsters on screen? How is this one different from and the same as other monster movies you've seen?
Is Kong scary -- or do you feel bad for him? Why?
Compare the "native islander" rituals surrounding Kong with the commercialism and fanfare that surrounds Kong when he arrives in the United States. What comments, if any, do you think the filmmakers may have been trying to make here?
- In theaters: December 17, 1976
- On DVD or streaming: July 27, 1999
- Cast: Charles Grodin, Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange
- Director: John Guillermin
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Wild Animals
- Run time: 134 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: February 4, 2023
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