Pearl Harbor

  • Review Date: May 8, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 183 minutes

Common Sense Media says

This violent movie is worth seeing, but only once.
  • 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.

Parents say

Kids say

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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Written byAnonymous October 4, 2014

Pearl Harbor review

========================================================= Sex/Nudity: We see the top of Red's bare butt as he walks away rubbing it after getting a shot there. We then hear Evelyn comment that Rafe had a cute butt (after giving him a shot there). After Rafe starts to act groggy after receiving one too many shots, he mistakenly says something about that he could lick Evelyn (when he meant to say "like you"). Rafe and Evelyn briefly kiss. Later, when they dance, he has his hand down on her clothed butt. After one of the guys tries manipulating a young woman into being with him for the night, she says, "Dry our eyes, toots, tonight you're mine." Rafe and Evelyn make out again. Later, the two of them go to a hotel presumably to have sex (as do others), but he then changes his mind before they get past the lobby, stating that he doesn't want to do anything that she'll later regret (although he says he'd like to do what they were planning to do). A person comments on "t*tties" being painted on the side of a plane and something about them being lopsided, but all we see is a clothed woman being painted on the craft. We see the side of a man's bare butt as he lies on a hospital bed. We see Evelyn wearing something resembling a bikini top. One of the nurses talks about getting her slate (of sexual behavior) wiped clean at church and then being curious about how she's going to dirty it up again. One of the men states that if he were Rafe (who's presumed dead), he'd be upset to find that his best friend was "doing" his girlfriend (referring to Danny and Evelyn). Danny and Evelyn make out in a parachute hangar and he then lies down on top of her (still fully clothed). Moments later, we see more passionate/sensuous kissing and see that he's shirtless and she appears to be in her bra. She then moves on top of him and they then reverse that where we then see him nuzzling her shoulder. It's implied that they have sex and we later learn that she's pregnant from this encounter. We see Evelyn in a bikini-like top, and she and Danny kiss. We see a small cloth covering a Japanese pilot's crotch as he gets dressed. 4.5/10. ========================================================= Violence: In a scene set in the past, a father backhands his son for endangering his life (by playing in and starting a plane). When that father starts to drag the boy away, another boy rushes up and hits the father on the head with a board, knocking him to the ground. Apparently reacting to getting a double dose of some shot/inoculation, Rafe stumbles and then falls, hitting his nose on a nearby cart. Later, the cork from a champagne bottle hits him there as well. We see some newsreel footage of bombs exploding on the ground and planes being hit by machine gun fire. We see various planes involved in wartime dogfights (with machine guns firing and planes being shot down and/or exploding). RAF fighters attack German bombers, strafing them with machine gun fire. Meanwhile, Rafe's fighter is hit and eventually crashes into the water (presumably killing him). Dorie and another boxer deliver plenty of hard-hitting blows to one another in a boxing ring. Some newsreel footage shows various RAF fighter planes crashing during combat. Rafe and Danny get into a fight over Evelyn (with Rafe punching Danny who then drives him back through a railing) that then leads to a larger, barroom brawl type fight among many other men. In a very long sequence, the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and drop many bombs and torpedoes on the Pacific fleet, blowing up many ships and planes and killing many people. They also do the same to many buildings and other structures and strafe all of the above with machine gun fire. During this, many people are killed (by explosions, machine gun fire, drowning, planes crashing, etc.), but most of the deaths are not graphic, although some appear to be "vaporized" by some of the explosions. The Americans also fire back (with anti-aircraft guns, machine guns and various handheld weapons) hitting some of the Japanese planes, and Danny and Rafe finally make it into the air (after other pilots and their planes are shot and/or blown up) and shoot down several enemy aircraft and cause others to crash into each other. U.S. forces open fire on some enemy ships (but we don't see any impact). U.S. bombers drop bombs on various buildings in Japan, blowing them up and presumably killing some/many people. Anti-aircraft fire then hits the bombers and people are wounded or killed. A bomber crashes in a rice paddy and the survivors get into a gun battle with Japanese forces. Another bomber strafes the Japanese before crashing (and wounding or killing some of its crew). A Japanese soldier hits an American pilot on the head and others hold rifles on other Americans that they take prisoner. That pilot then grabs a gun and shoots several soldiers dead, while another pilot hits another soldier with the wooden beam to which he's tied. That man is then mortally wounded by gunfire (he doesn't die right away), others are shot and a grenade explodes, killing several more people. 8/10. ========================================================= Blood/Gore: We see dried blood splatter inside the cockpit window of a fighter plane. We see what looks like some blood on a man's shirt as he boxes with another man. Later, Evelyn stitches up a cut on the side of Dorie's face (from that boxing match). Danny has a little bit of a bloody lip after being punched. During and after the attack on Pearl, we see many wounded or dead people who are bloody to varying degrees. Many dead people are seen in the water, blood spurts out of one man's neck wound, blood runs from another man's hand and Evelyn has blood all over her uniform. We later see a great deal of blood on the hospital floor. We see blood flowing into empty Coke bottles as Rafe and Danny donate blood for the wounded. A wounded pilot is somewhat bloody (and we see what looks like some shrapnel sticking out of his neck) and we later see some slightly bloody bullet hole wounds in his outfit. 7/10. ========================================================= Profanity: There's 1 possible "f" word (said during a loud scene), along with at least 8 "s" words, 1 slang term for sex ("doing"), 1 slang term for breasts ("t*tties"), 9 damns, 6 S.O.B.'s, 5 hells, 2 craps, 1 ass, and 9 uses of "G-damn," 6 of "Oh my God," 5 of "God," 4 of "Oh God," 3 of "My God," 2 of "Jesus" and 1 use of "Jesus Christ" as exclamations. 5.5/10. ========================================================= Alcohol/Drugs: Rafe opens some champagne for Evelyn and himself. Various people drink at a dance. We briefly see Red and Betty holding some glasses of champagne or booze. Rafe mentions drinking beer with two pilots who were later killed in action. We later see a beer in front of Rafe as he writes a letter (and a British officer who walks up carries a beer). Danny and others drinks shots of liquor in honor of another pilot. Rafe appears somewhat intoxicated as he drinks beer and shots of liquor with other men. Japanese pilots toast their upcoming mission with what's presumably alcohol. 3.5/10. ========================================================= Smoking: Various miscellaneous characters smoke (cigarettes, cigars and pipes), while we also see FDR smoking. Some victory cigars are passed out among crewmembers before a mission. 2/10. ========================================================= Pearl Harbor is quite a good film, but isn't as "enjoyable" (war films can't really be called "enjoyable," but I can't think of another word to use) as other war movies such as Saving Private Ryan or The Thin Red Line. So I give it 5.5/10. =========================================================
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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!
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


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