Pearl Harbor



This violent movie is worth seeing, but only once.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: May 8, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 183 minutes

What parents need to know


Intense battle scenes, many injuries and deaths, some graphic.


Sexual references and situations, out of wedlock pregnancy.


Some strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink and smoke.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie features extended and intense battle violence with thousands of casualties, including characters we care about. Soldiers use strong language and joke about seduction techniques. A couple decides not to have sex because they don't want to have any regrets. Another couple does have sex, and the woman becomes pregnant. Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays a real-life hero of World War II, the first black man to win the Navy Cross.

What's the story?

PEARL HARBOR begins as America is sending equipment and supplies to Europe, but has not yet entered World War II. Friends Rafe (Ben Affleck) and Danny (Josh Hartnett) are army pilots. Anxious to get some action, Rafe volunteers to go to England, where he can join an American division of the RAF. Before he leaves, he meets a pretty nurse named Evelyn (Kate Beckinsdale) and they fall in love. He leaves for England, and Danny and Evelyn are assigned half a world away, to the Naval Station at Pearl Harbor. When Rafe is reported killed, Evelyn and Danny are devastated. They comfort each other, and become involved. Rafe arrives to find them together, just before the Japanese attack. That attack, lasting just about as long on screen as it did in reality, is devastating to the unprepared Naval Station and to a country that thought it could stay out of the war. But Rafe and Danny train for a counter-attack on Tokyo to send Japan a message that America can and will punish those who attack us.

Is it any good?


Like Titanic, Pearl Harbor ties a love story to a catastrophe, with the theory that if it can make us care, make us gasp, and make us cry, they'll have a box-office bonanza. But both the love story and the war story have a synthetic feel to them that does not permit us to care enough. It's worth seeing - but only once.

Director Michael Bay has visual flair and superb command of action sequences. Dan Ackroyd is fine as an intelligence officer and Jon Voight shows us FDR's compassion, political skill, and intelligence. Affleck, Hartnett, and Beckinsdale look gorgeous and do their best to give some depth to the cardboard characters, but they cannot overcome a soapy plot and dialogue that is often wooden and sometimes wildly anachronistic. Pearl Harbor fails to provide any sense of the reason for the conflict, and it bends over backwards to be fair to the Japanese, portraying them as brave and loyal. But it is also dismayingly US-centric, showing (inaccurately) both the English and the Japanese in awe of American spirit and strength.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the events that led to World War II and about some of the real-life characters who are depicted. Make sure that they know that in 1941 the armed services were segregated. Dorie Miller, like most other black soldiers, was not trained to fight and was assigned to cooking and menial jobs. Characters in the movie face choices that are well worth family discussion. Why didn't the US realize how vulnerable it was to attack? How do you decide which wounded to help? What should Evelyn have done when Rafe returned? Why did the pilots volunteer for the raid on Japan?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 25, 2001
DVD release date:December 4, 2001
Cast:Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale
Director:Michael Bay
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Run time:183 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sustained intense war sequences, images of wounded, brief sensuality and some language

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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, 14 years old Written byKayKayD September 20, 2009

The Best WW II Movie I've Seen

This movie depicts war in the most graphic, brutal fashion possible. In other words, it depicts war as it truly is. I think Pearl Harbor did an outstanding job displaying the horror and pain Japan's attack on Hawaii caused, as well as the true cost of war itself. Definatly the bombing scenes and shooting scenes are bloody-gorey, but what do you expect from a WW II movie? Nevertheless, I wouldn't let a sensitive younger kid watch it. The sex scene in the parachute hanger seemed a little uneccessary to me, but without it the very end wouldn't have made sense, I suppose. Still, I didn't like it, and I wouldn't let a kid watch it. Danny and his army buddy get so drunk that they pass out and miss half the bombing the next morning. I think that counts as overdrinking. The role models are good because they know their duty as men in the service, and their hearts are in the right places. They know right from wrong. Overall, epic movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byTnMovieFan2 April 9, 2008
Adult Written bythewittyman27 April 9, 2008


this movie was so sad. when the guy saved the other guy twice, buy jumping in the way, and then standing up to take the bullets... it was so sad and rly good!


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