Want more recommendations for your family?
Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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 & Scariness
Brief but vivid shooting; explosions in the trenches of WWI, with blood gushing out of bullet wounds.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A naked Jack has a physical, but nothing explicit shown.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
The F-word and Christ's name in vain under battle stress. "Ass," "hell" and "damn."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Viewers may be inclined to read Rudyard Kipling books (or see the movie versions).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The younger Kiplings smoke and drink unsupervised.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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. 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. Viewers not especially spellbound with the time period may hunger for more drama and insight.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.