Requiem for the American Dream

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Requiem for the American Dream Movie Poster Image
Noam Chomsky's theories of inequality are important but dry.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 78 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

All viewers may not agree with him, but Chomsky's message is that unchecked, under-regulated capitalism is threatening the fabric of society, with the rich and powerful using their wealth and influence to become even more so, at the expense of the poor. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Chomsky is outspoken and intelligent and does a great job of explaining complicated topics in ways that are clear and easy to grasp.

Violence

Some sequences feature news footage of protests and riots, with people being attacked by police officers using fire hoses, tear gas, nightsticks, and other weapons designed to subdue crowds.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Requiem for the American Dream is a documentary that showcases the ideas of acclaimed academic Noam Chomsky, who explains how the global economic system has tilted far in favor of the rich and powerful. In a series of extensive interviews, Chomsky walks viewers through his theories, explaining how the world has become more and more unequal and why current conditions suggest than significant change is unlikely in the near future. There's nothing upsetting other than old news footage of people being forcibly subdued during riots and protests, but some of the ideas are a bit academic/advanced and likely won't be very entertaining to younger viewers.

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What's the story?

It's no secret that economic inequality is becoming more extreme, with an ever larger portion of the world's wealth concentrated in the hands of the extremely rich. It's less clear how that's happened, but in REQUIEM FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM, acclaimed intellectual Noam Chomsky lays it all out. In a series of vignettes illustrated with historical news footage, graphics, charts, and extensive interviews, Chomsky goes over some of his theories, detailing how the rich shape the government to stay rich and the powerful collude with the wealthy to stay powerful. 

Is it any good?

Chomsky is a compelling speaker and teacher, and with him at the center, Requiem is fascinating. But despite the film's interesting subject -- and the expert discussing it -- it's a lot to ask of an audience to sit through what essentially's a lecture. Some charts, news footage, and animation add texture -- and there's no question the message is powerful and thought-provoking. But entertainment? Not so much. A less-dry approach perhaps would have better served a film that deserves to be seen.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about inequality. What does that word mean to you? From what you see and hear in this film, do you agree with Chomsky's take on the subject?

  • Is inequality a natural part of the social order, or is it engineered by those who have (or want to have) more than others?

  • Is this documentary an effective platform to explain these complicated ideas?

  • How can regular people help combat inequality? See how our Kids Action advocates are addressing the issue.

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