JFK movie captures mood but omits a great deal; some blood.
What parents need to know
Positive role models
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Parkland tells the story of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963 through the eyes of some of the story's minor players -- for example, Abraham Zapruder, Lee Harvey Oswald's brother, the doctors who tried to save the president, and the Secret Service agents who weren't able to protect him. It's not clear whether teens will be interested in this type of history, and they might be better served to look elsewhere for a clearer idea of who Kennedy was, what he did, what happened to him, and why it mattered. Expect some gruesome, bloody hospital scenes and lots of arguing. Language isn't frequent but does include some strong words (one use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "bitch," etc.). There's a brief scene of Zac Efron flirting with a nurse, and many of the characters smoke cigarettes in a casual way (accurate for the time period).
What's the story?
In November 1963, President John F. Kennedy is visiting Dallas, and everyone is excited. But when he's shot, people experience different reactions. A hospital staff (Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Colin Hanks) tries to save him. Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti) films the motorcade with his new motion picture camera and finds himself in possession of valuable evidence. A Secret Service agent (Billy Bob Thornton) tries to deal with the fact that he and his men failed in their jobs. An FBI agent (Ron Livingston) realizes that he could have captured the shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, in advance. And the killer's brother, Robert Oswald (James Badge Dale), tries to come to terms with this deadly, shocking act.
Is it any good?
Rookie writer/director Peter Landesman initially had a great idea for PARKLAND. He wanted to make a kind of "rarities and 'B'-sides" collection and retell the story of the Kennedy assassination through the eyes of the minor players. But he doesn't really connect these stories other than through the tragedy itself -- and, taken separately, none of the stories has any great depth.
It's interesting seeing amateur filmmaker Abraham Zapruder portrayed onscreen, especially by Giamatti, but his story arc is a little disappointing -- he tries to find a place to quickly develop and copy the film but then just as quickly sells it to LIFE magazine. The story of Lee Harvey Oswald's brother, Robert, is more interesting and might have made a good feature by itself, but again, there's too little here. The hospital sequence is probably the least useful, decorated by escalated blood and gore, giving the talented Harden nothing to do, and giving the lifeless Efron too much.
Families can talk about...
- Families can talk about the effect that violence has on Parkland's characters. How do they react? How does the bloody/gory hospital scene fit into the movie?
- Does this movie give an idea of who Kennedy was? Or is it more about how he affected people? What's the difference? How does this movie compare to any other JFK movies you may have seen?
- Two of the characters are interested in making money from the tragedy. How does the movie view them?
- Who are the bravest and noblest of the characters? Are they role models? What can you learn from them?
|Theatrical release date:||October 4, 2013|
|DVD/Streaming release date:||November 5, 2013|
|Cast:||James Badge Dale, Paul Giamatti, Zac Efron|
|Run time:||93 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||bloody sequences of ER trauma procedures, some violent images and language, and smoking throughout|
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