My Boy Jack

 
Daniel Radcliffe goes to war as Kipling's son.
  • Review Date: July 31, 2008
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 93 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Good manners, courageous bearing, and being a valiant warrior for king and country are the themes here, even if you wonder whether the filmmakers are endorsing the once-noble ideals of the British Empire or condemning them as having inspired the war that stained the Kipling household (and so many others) with loss. John is an unspoiled young man, and has no problem earning the friendship of the Irish volunteers he commands.

Violence

Brief but vivid shooting; explosions in the trenches of WWI, with blood gushing out of bullet wounds.

Sex

A naked Jack has a physical, but nothing explicit shown.

Language

The F-word and Christ's name in vain under battle stress. "Ass," "hell" and "damn."

Consumerism

Viewers may be inclined to read Rudyard Kipling books (or see the movie versions).

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The younger Kiplings smoke and drink unsupervised.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that characters swear explicitly during combat (not outside of it, though), and there is brief but bloody battlefield violence and fatalities. The younger Kiplings are shown sneaking cigarettes and alcohol unsupervised. Early readers who have come to idolize actor Daniel Radcliffe for his incarnation of Harry Potter should know this is a likeable but very different character he plays, who comes to a very different, sadder end. Viewers whose knowledge of English history and culture doesn't go much deeper than Hogwarts may feel left out.

What's the story?

Opening in 1914, MY BOY JACK concerns the son of celebrated writer Rudyard Kipling (David Haig). In Imperial Britain the elder Kipling is more than just a successful creator of widely read adventure stories and poems like Gunga Din, The Jungle Book, and Kim; he upholds the spirit of the British Empire and publicly advocates war against a competing Germany. Kipling's teenage son John (Daniel Radcliffe), meanwhile, struggles to measure up to his father's lofty codes of manhood and patriotism. John wants to enlist in the Royal Navy, but Rudyard uses his considerable influence in the government to ensure the youth becomes a British Army officer instead. John's mother and especially his sister are less enthusiastic about his going off to fight when the war begins, and Britain initially suffers disastrous defeats. A well-liked leader of a platoon of Irish Guards, John is reported missing in action after a huge battle, bringing much grief and introspection to the prominent Kipling household.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Much like Christopher Columbus, Rudyard Kipling represents, for some people, an idol of the finest quality, and for others (especially those on the political left), he summed up the worst; a conquest-happy nationalist who never served a day in uniform himself, but who used his literary talents to propagandize for British armed strength and superiority worldwide. This story, based on fact (and a poem Kipling wrote in tribute to his son) could well have portrayed the author as a foaming fanatic who sent his boy to suffer in the trenches for his own personal glory. But -- and as My Boy Jack was first aired on British television for a national holiday honoring war veterans -- the filmmakers recognize that nobody at the time had that attitude. Thus, we have a fair-and-balanced script that doesn't judge harshly by making Kipling too extreme or his wife too reproachful.

In this treatment though, something notable got overlooked: John himself. He seems like a nice, capable, unpretentious young adult, not at all stuck up as a child of privilege. He's self-conscious about his weak eyesight and well accustomed to his dear domineering dad -- and that's about it. Well-acted and handsomely produced, My Boy Jack just doesn't have much to say about the title character or the challenges of growing up Kipling. Viewers not especially spellbound with the time period may hunger for more drama and insight.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Rudyard Kipling, and how his literary output and political prominence propped up the British Empire. You can compare his books to movies based on them, especially The Jungle Book. How tough (or cool) might it be as the son of a national icon?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 11, 2007
DVD release date:April 20, 2008
Cast:Carey Mulligan, Daniel Radcliffe, David Haig, Kim Cattrall
Director:Brian Kirk
Studio:BBC
Genre:Drama
Run time:93 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of My Boy Jack was written by

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Quality

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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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Kid, 12 years old December 7, 2009
age 13+
 

vilont and sad

vilont and sad!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old October 16, 2009
age 11+
 
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Parent of a 17 year old Written bylove2 September 30, 2009
age 12+
 

the sadest movie i have ever scene

COANTAINS SPOILER my favorite actor in the world is daniel radcliffe. So i rented the movie and watched it. and it was the sadest movie i had ever scene! when jack goes missing in the war his family does everything they can to find him. But then trgicly they find out that he had died ( and in the scene they show him being shot and falling to the ground and dies) i cried and cried and cried at that part. and one of the sadest things is that his father insisted that he went to war and when Jack dies he begins to realize that he basicly murdered his own son. a very sad story. ONLY FOR MATURE VIEWERS.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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