Parents' Guide to

Pearl Harbor

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Violent war story mixed with soapy love triangle.

Movie PG-13 2001 183 minutes
Pearl Harbor Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 13 parent reviews

age 17+

Why are people shocked that this is inappropriate for children?

I can't believe there are parents on here freaking out about how it's not appropriate for kids. Why would you let your child watch a PG-13 movie? There is absolutely no indication that children under 13 should watch this film. If your child saw it and had nightmares, that's YOUR responsibility. Anyway, this was a beautiful film! I felt like it was pretty accurate. The only thing that annoyed me was the love triangle.
age 12+

Intense war story’s silly love triangle takes over.

To start: Pearl Harbor is no Titanic. I mean that in the loosest sense that one can mean that, but it is still true. Pearl Harbor is no Titanic. Let me just say this: the story of Pearl Harbor is an excruciatingly emotional, tragic, and heartbreaking one, and the way they portrayed it in this movie made it feel like the stupidly obvious love triangle was the “main attraction”. In Titanic, the lovers’ story felt just right to the plot, and when the time came, Jack’s and Rose’s love was given a fitting backseat to the actual events of Titanic. In Pearl Harbor, Evelyn’s split heart felt so, so very wimpy, and Rafe was just a jerk. Danny and Evelyn were definitely the better couple, so why couldn’t Rafe just be Danny’s and Evelyn’s good friend instead of trying to do a silly love triangle that really didn’t get resolved? It would’ve given more meaning to the tragic events that occurred while still having a good love story. Also: when Rafe comes back after being declared dead, he has a personality switch. Another thing: whenever Evelyn finds out she’s (Spoiler!) pregnant, she tells Rafe first. Okay, so that’s fine if Rafe is the father, but in this case, DANNY is the father and HE should’ve been told first. Plus, the dialogue felt cheesy and forced between Rafe and Evelyn after he comes back. It was like the movie-makers said, “Huh. Well, since Rafe is gone, let’s have Danny and Evelyn get together, she gets pregnant, Rafe comes back, a love triangle starts up, and right before the events of Pearl Harbor happen, Danny and Rafe get into a beer brawl! Brilliant!” Give me a break. I’m done with undecided heroines, love triangles, and the like. So now for the content: Violence: Graphic, up close, and very intense. Language: Coarse, sometimes intense. Sex: mostly just kisses, but there is a sex scene, (in a very stupid place) that you should just skip. Positive messages: Great supporting characters. Pearl Harbor is a pretty good movie until you discuss it. Once you do that, besides the well-filmed war scenes and amazing supporting characters, and of course the heartbreakingly tragic events of Pearl Harbor and the courageousness of the young men in the Air Force , you’ll find that the movie doesn’t have much more to offer besides a cheesy love triangle. So should you watch this movie? Yes, but just once. God Bless

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (13 ):
Kids say (47 ):

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 Beckinsale 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 backward to be fair to the Japanese, portraying them as brave and loyal. But it is also dismayingly U.S.-centric, showing (inaccurately) both the English and the Japanese in awe of American spirit and strength.

But both the love story and the war story here have a synthetic feel to them that doesn't permit us to care enough. 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. It's worth seeing -- but only once.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: May 25, 2001
  • On DVD or streaming: December 4, 2001
  • Cast: Ben Affleck , Josh Hartnett , Kate Beckinsale
  • Director: Michael Bay
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
  • Genre: Drama
  • Character Strengths: Courage
  • Run time: 183 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: sustained intense war sequences, images of wounded, brief sensuality and some language
  • Last updated: August 29, 2023

Inclusion information powered by

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.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate