A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
While some of the boys' decisions are certainly iffy (especially in retrospect), there's no denying the film's strong messages about perseverance, creativity, and ingenuity. And, of course, there's the idea that it's important to hang on to your dreams.
Positive Role Models
Childhood friends Chris, Eric, and Jayson have their ups and downs, but ultimately they manage to work together to produce something amazing. Their achievement is a testament to their shared passion and willingness to put in long hours on a project that was important to all of them. Some of their adult role models were iffy (the "chaperone" hired after the fire incident, for example), and some of their parents were criticized for lax supervision, but most of those parents proved to be supportive champions in the end.
Violence & Scariness
Kids accidentally light each other on fire, use moving vehicles to drag each other over the ground, and get hit by any number of props -- all in the name of creative moviemaking. A key part of the film is recreating Raiders of the Lost Ark's famous airplane fight scene. It ends when the villain has an unpleasant encounter with a moving propeller, and it isn't pretty (either in clips from the real movie or in the re-creation). One actor suffers a nasty injury during filming, and there are some anxious moments (but he's OK).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief talk about teens dating/flirting/kissing.
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Infrequent swearing includes a use of "s--t," plus "goddamn," "sucks," "son of a bitch," middle-finger gestures, and one bleeped-out word.
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Products & Purchases
The Alamo Drafthouse theater chain and its event programming are promoted.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Talk of people drinking beer. One of the men talks about a period in his life when he was an addict who used pot, cocaine, methamphetamines, and other drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made is a documentary about a group of Mississippi tweens who, in the early 1980s, decided to film a shot-for-shot remake of the blockbuster adventure film Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark -- a project that ultimately took several years and has stayed with them into their adult lives. The movie's structure is driven by the friends' reunion to film the one scene they were never able to complete, but much of it examines their friendship and movie-making activities in the '80s. Despite some iffy choices in the name of artistic creativity (they accidentally set each other on fire, as well as drag each other from vehicles, whack each other with props, etc.), brief references to drug use, and infrequent swearing ("goddamn," one us of "s--t," etc.), Raiders! is a testament to perseverance. While it may have the most appeal for adults who remember their own early Raiders experiences -- and understand the power of a childhood dream fulfilled -- the stories of the boys' ingenuity and hard work are bound to inspire today's tweens and teens, too. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This documentary is a behind-the-scenes story of a film production, but it ultimately succeeds because it's so much more than that. Yes, an action-adventure movie made by and starring children is an impressive feat, but Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made is mostly about relationships. It delves into the the bonds between Eric, Chris, and Jayson, and how those bonds frayed as they grew older and apart. It shows how their shared project helped shape them into adults -- and why finishing it is so important to them.
In interviews, the boys' mothers recall the film's haphazard production values and the kids' near-total lack of adult supervision (leading to several creative stunts involving fire that fortunately didn't get out control) -- and they also provide valuable insights into their sons' emotional development. When watching Raiders!, you root for the men to finally accomplish their goal, but, even more tellingly, you're happy to see how the kids who took on such an ambitious, interesting project grew up.
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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