A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mad Max: Fury Road -- the fourth film in the Mad Max series and the first in decades -- is a reboot of sorts, with Tom Hardy taking over for Mel Gibson in the title role. It's extremely violent, with nonstop chase scenes, explosions, deaths, blood, shooting, and stabbing, as well as violence against women (including a bloody scene involving a pregnant woman), nightmarish flashbacks, diseased flesh, and other disturbing imagery. Several imprisoned women are attached to machines that pump their breast milk, and some of the female characters (some of whom are played by supermodels) are treated as sexual objects, shown wearing skimpy clothing while washing. One woman is naked, but viewers only see her behind. No strong language is clearly heard, but much of the dialogue is obscured by the thundering sound effects. Drinking, drugs, and smoking aren't issues. Even though this franchise hasn't had a new entry in more than a generation, it's likely that strong buzz will attract all kinds of teen moviegoers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In a post-apocalyptic future, the evil Immortan Joe rules the land by controlling water and gasoline. His trusted soldier, Furiosa (Charlize Theron), heads out for a routine supply run then suddenly goes east; it turns out she has betrayed him by rescuing several of Joe's wives, whom he keeps for breeding purposes. Meanwhile, Max (Tom Hardy), who has been taken prisoner, escapes and finds that Furiosa's battle-ready truck is his only means of escape. He soon joins her cause, and another of Joe's men, the disillusioned Nux (Nicholas Hoult), also helps. Reaching Furiosa's homeland reveals that the chase still isn't over; the band of heroes must go straight back into the lion's den.
Is it any good?
The sheer, limitless invention behind this movie's exhilarating, preposterous chase scenes highlights action filmmaking at its finest. Amid the roar of the speeding machines, though, director George Miller also plays with subtler themes. As in his 1987 comedy The Witches of Eastwick, Miller seems interested in women and motherhood, but in an unusual way (as in the scene in which Max uses mother's milk to wash blood from his face).
Perhaps the movie's key theme stems from the way that Max seems even madder this time around, hearing victims' voices in his head. In MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, violence is ultimately linked to madness. It's amazing that Miller has been in charge of the Mad Max series for so many decades, but it's telling that he's also behind the Babe and Happy Feet movies. As the maker of such open-hearted family movies, he seems to possess a much larger, more empathetic worldview than most other filmmakers doling out action for action's sake.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Mad Max: Fury Road's violence. With so much destruction, what does the movie seem to say about violence in general? Is it thrilling, or is some of it shocking and unpleasant? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How are women treated in the movie? Do the young women seem like sex objects, or do they become interesting characters? What role does Furiosa play? How does her character compare to other female action heroes you've seen?
What's the appeal of the Mad Max character? What do we know about him? Can we place ourselves in his shoes? Is he a role model? A mystery?
What's the appeal of the post-apocalyptic genre? What do these movies try to teach us about the way we live today?
- In theaters: May 15, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: September 1, 2015
- Cast: Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult
- Director: George Miller
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Cars and Trucks
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award
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