M*A*S*H* (1970)

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
M*A*S*H* (1970) Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Rollicking, biting, satirical classic is so 1970.
  • R
  • 1970
  • 116 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Trapper John and Hawkeye are sexist: Trapper John calling Hot Lips a "sultry bitch" and demand she be stripped naked and brought to him. He also asks for a nurse "who knows how to work in close without getting her tits in my way." Duke doesn't want to share his bunk with a black man, calling him a "negro boy." When one character thinks he might be gay, they call him a "fairy" and a "raging queen" and joke that he's okay because "he hasn't started raping anyone yet." They both speak gibberish Japanese when they land in Japan. They drug the star football players to win. They gamble and Hawkeye steals a Jeep.

Violence

Lots of emergency room blood: spurting blood, bloody body parts, sawing body parts. A doctor wants to kill himself because he thinks he's gay. Trapper John hits Burns. Burns attacks Hawkeye. Some football violence, including tackling and players being carted off the field on stretchers.

Sex

Lots of bawdy talk about brothels, masterbation, penis size, and lots of sexual comments about the female nurses on base. The guys rig it so Hoolihan exposes herself to the whole camp. Burns and Hoolihan have sex and their sounds are broadcast across the camp, Hawkeye has sex with a married nurse and encourages her to have sex with a man who thinks he's gay to "cure" him. Col. Blake is shown in bed with a much younger nurse.

Language

Considerable swearing, including "f--k," "hell," "son of a bitch," "ass," "dammit," "bitch," "goddamn" and "tits."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Considerable drinking and some smoking. Hawkeye and Trapper John drink martinis. Hawkeye talks about drinking gin and scotch separately. It's implied that characters are using speed. Everyone drinks beer. Football players are high.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this classic film is excellent -- and also shows the marks of its time (1970) and the era in which it was set (the Korean War in the 1950s) with considerable sexist, racist, and xenophobic behavior. Hawkeye and Trapper John sexually harass Hoolihan because she disagrees with their free-wheeling behavior. Duke calls a black neurosurgeon a "negro boy" and Hawkeye and Trapper John speak gibberish Japanese. There's also considerable sex and brief nudity, as well as lots of surgery-related blood and gore.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySpencer H. January 20, 2021

Great movie for teenagers and up, younger children should stick with the TV show that followed

I personally happen to love this movie and the television series that followed it. Many fans of the subsequent TV adaptation do not like or even know this movie... Continue reading
Adult Written byCarolina Seaglass July 12, 2020

It's a great show for those who can handle war

If you can't handle war then you shouldn't watch this show, if you're a parent deciding if you should show it to your kid then watch the movie fi... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byRodri's Retro Club July 17, 2020

This satirical war movie has cursing and violence.

Parents need to know that the movie has cursing and mild violence in this 1970's movie.
Teen, 16 years old Written byhomealonefan123 March 11, 2012

this classic comedy is not for little kids

this movie is rated PG not R. this old comedy is not for little kid at all though

What's the story?

Robert Altman's rollicking war satire gets rolling when newly drafted surgeon "Hawkeye" Pierce (Donald Sutherland) arrives in Korea and immediately sets out to prove he's no military man. He steals a Jeep, kids around with Duke Forrest (Tom Skerritt), and joins forces with fellow surgeon and rebel "Trapper" John McIntyre (Elliott Gould). They make short work of by-the-book officers like Frank Burns (Robert Duvall) and head nurse Margaret "Hot Lips" Hoolihan (Sally Kellerman), mostly by forms of humiliation that would today be considered sexual harassment. In short, they don't let being located in a war zone stop them from having fun.

Is it any good?

It's easy to see why this blockbuster film became such a great TV show. Its series of wacky antics – including the pseudo suicide of a well-endowed dentist and golfing in Japan -- resemble nothing so much as a series of TV shows. There's no plot other than undoing the rigidness on which the military depends.

While this is all fun, it's also likely to be offensive to many viewers. The extreme sexism and sexualization of the female nurses, the homophobic comments about a man who thinks he might be gay, and the condescending attitudes about people of color may be accurate for their time, but are likely to mar some people's enjoyment of the film.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role of satire in American culture. How is this film a satire of war? What's fun about satire and what's not? What other movies use biting satire to make an important point? Do they do it as well as this movie does?

Movie details

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