Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Parkland Movie Poster Image
JFK movie captures mood but omits a great deal; some blood.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages
The movie more or less celebrates the quiet heroism of people who are dealing with a national tragedy -- though not all of them succeed.
Positive Role Models & Representations
Most characters aren't on screen long enough to become real role models, but many of them behave in heroic ways, even if the end results aren't always optimal. Some of them behave irrationally. Early on, Zapruder starts to tell a stereotypical joke (about a Jew, an Italian, and an Irishman) and later decides to make money by selling his film to LIFE magazine. But many characters keep a clear head and try to help others.
The Zapruder film of John F. Kennedy's assassination is discussed and partly seen but not completely shown. Characters are shocked when they see it. A bloody Kennedy is wheeled into the emergency room, and viewers witness a blood-soaked attempt to save his life. Mrs. Kennedy is shown spattered with blood from the shooting, and she dazedly hands over a small piece of brain and skull to a nurse. Lee Harvey Oswald is also wheeled into the same hospital after his shooting. Stressed-out characters frequently argue and shout at one another.
Zac Efron's character flirts with a nurse in the early scenes. He slides his hand around her waist as he walks by, and she responds with a smile.
"F--k" is used once. Characters use "oh my God" and "goddamn" more frequently. "S--t," "son of a bitch," "hell," "piss," "damn," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation) are also heard.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Several adult characters are seen smoking cigarettes throughout the film, mostly in a casual, background way. It's all accurate for the movie's time period.

What 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).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMike W. January 22, 2019


The movie is about President Kennedy in parkland, i think that it should not be show to 3 year olds! There may be blood involved.
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 February 2, 2014

Set the expectations low and you'll have a good time

This so-so Kennedy assassination reenactment has tons of stars, but only James Badge Dale and Paul Giamatti, respectively as the assassin's brother and the... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byAnthony_Luciano11 November 29, 2019


It's sad, not much violence, but a lot of blood. Language is not that bad, although it only says it uses f*ck once I heard it audibly used twice

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.

Talk to your kids 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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Themes & Topics

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