Men of Honor

  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 129 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Stirring true story may be appropriate for some teens.
  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 129 minutes





What parents need to know


Characters in peril, one badly injured.




Barracks language -- profanity and racist comments

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters abuse alcohol and smoke

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie's R rating is primarily based on salty Navy language, including racist comments. Characters are in peril and one is badly injured. There are some sexual references. Characters have alcohol problems and one is shown in rehab.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Raised by sharecroppers (Carl Lumbly and Lonette McKee), Carl Brashear, Jr. (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) enlists in the Navy. The armed services have just been desegregated, and he has hopes for new opportunities. It turns out that desegregation is more theoretical than real, and he is relegated to one of the few positions open to blacks -- kitchen duty on board an escort carrier. When the ship's captain discovers what a strong, fast swimmer he is, he is promoted to the search and rescue team. Dreaming of becoming a master diver, he sends more than 100 letters of application before being accepted to the Navy training facility. There, he faces further racism in his battle to become a master diver.

Is it any good?


Carl Brashear, Jr. was the first black man to achieve the rank of Master Diver in the Navy. He was also the first amputee to be returned to active duty in the armed services. In MEN OF HONOR, produced by Bill Cosby, Brashear gets the kind of respectful, go-for-the-Oscar treatment that reached its zenith in the 1960s. Everyone tries very hard, but the story is old-fashioned and predictable -- even down to the marriage proposal that melts the girl's heart and the courtroom climax. The real problem is that the characters are so one-dimensional, the good guys so good and the bad guys so bad, that it has the feel of an after-school special.

I couldn't help thinking about the recent Spike Lee movie, "Bamboozled." The need to make the fictional Brashear so idealized echoes Lee's concerns about the minstrel show aspect of popular culture, making a real story less real to make it more entertaining. It would show more respect for both Brashear and the audience to let us see a character with more depth and complexity. It is especially disappointing that the story is so simplified that it should be suitable for kids, but it has strong profanity, earning it an R rating. I could not help being very curious, too, about Jo Brashear. A black woman doctor in the early 60s must have a story that is at least as interesting as this one. But we get no sense of what went into her life choices or how she handled her challenges. In real life, the marriage did not survive. But in the movie, she shows up at the crucial moment to provide love and support.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what motivates the characters. Brashear is asked why he wants to be a diver and he says, "Because they said I couldn't have it." Brashear asks Sunday why he is helping him after the amputation, and Sunday says, "To piss people off." It is pretty clear why Mr. Pappy does not want Brashear to graduate -- he's a racist. But why does the later commanding officer want Brashear to retire so badly? Talk, too, about the meaning of "ASNF" on Brashear's father's radio, and Sunday's response to it.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 10, 2000
DVD release date:April 10, 2001
Cast:Charlize Theron, Cuba Gooding Jr., Robert De Niro
Director:George Tillman Jr.
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:129 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language

This review of Men of Honor was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byalext5bds November 26, 2008

Great Movie.

This was one of the best movies I have ever seen. The language is a little on the high side(16 f-bombs). This movie is virtually about not giving up your dreams. It is based on a true story which blew me away that this man went through all this trouble to become a diver. I find this movie truly inspirational.
Adult Written byCSM Screen Name... April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Teen, 14 years old Written bymathwhiz February 27, 2014

Men of Honor

This film is very moving. It is probably one of the best pictures of never giving up and hope and following your dreams against all odds. There is a lot of racism, but it's more sad than offensive. The main character handles it very well, and rarely has and rarely gets angry. A character is injured (not very graphic). A man who holds his breath too long gets a nosebleed. A man angrily throws things. A man hits many hospital employees on the head with a pan, they are later shown bruised. A few more mildly violent scenes. Language is strong but not constant. The "N" word is used more than twenty times. The f-word is used probably about twenty times including four or five combined with "mother" (two in the first scene). There is moderate sex talk with a reference to a b--wj-b and talk of many men having sex with one women (used to make fun of someone). A couple scenes take place in a bar. Overall I think only mature 14 year olds can handle this but it is best left to people ages 15 and up because if it's themes and language. I highly recommend this amazing film. The acting (as always with Cuba Gooding Jr.) is also outstanding. FWI: There is no actual sex but talk only.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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