A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that San Andreas is a disaster movie about a huge earthquake in California. For anyone who's scared of earthquakes (particularly folks living in California), it could be a disturbing or even terrifying experience. There's rampant large-scale destruction: tumbling buildings, people being crushed/nearly crushed, floods, people drowning, etc. There are countless (mostly bloodless) casualties, though some blood is shown -- notably when a metal spike goes through a foot and a shard of glass winds up in someone's leg. A gun is shown, and there's some fighting; a supporting character dies. A young man and a young woman kiss; she's also shown in a bikini and a tight tank top. Language includes one use of "f--k," a few uses of "s--t," and some other words. While massive destruction and disaster are the main points of the movie, there are underlying messages about teamwork and helping people, and the main character is a heroic pilot who risks himself to save others.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Los Angeles Fire Department search-and-rescue chopper pilot Ray Gaines (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) once lost a daughter in a river rafting accident, and now his wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), is divorcing him. Ray still has a good relationship with his surviving daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), though his weekend with her is canceled when a big earthquake rocks Las Vegas. A scientist (Paul Giamatti) studies the quake and predicts that an even bigger one is going to strike all of California, along the SAN ANDREAS fault. While he tries to warn the world, Ray and Emma team up to rescue Blake from a crumbling San Francisco before it's too late.
Is it any good?
Despite some truly sensational visual and sound effects -- and despite The Rock's undeniable star power -- San Andreas relies early and often on a pack of disaster movie cliches. Director Brad Peyton and Johnson previously worked together on Journey 2: The Mysterious Island; it's possible that helped them develop a good working relationship. Or maybe Johnson simply knows how to act in the context of massive visual effects; either way, when Johnson is onscreen, the movie settles into comfortable silliness.
Otherwise, San Andreas crams exposition, coincidence, and bad shortcuts into the mix with half-drawn characters, and it's hard to care. Even an acclaimed actor like Giamatti can do little with his severe, warning-filled dialogue, and Ioan Gruffudd is stuck in the role of Emma's new, cowardly boyfriend, whose sole job seems to be to raise a cheer from the audience when his death scene comes. In the end, for better or for worse, rampant destruction wins the day.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about San Andreas' violence. What's the appeal of disaster movies? The enormity and frequency of massive-scale destruction can be overwhelming. Is this kind of violence more or less upsetting than gory horror movies? Why?
Is Blake a role model? She's shown to be smart and resourceful, but would her character be as compelling if she wasn't also depicted as attractive? What's the take away from that? Does she represent an unrealistic female body image?
Are there stereotypes in the movie? If so, how are they used? How are they avoided?
One of the movie's themes is the importance of family. Does that come through amid the chaos and destruction?
How does this movie compare to other "disaster movies" you may have seen? Why has this genre always been so popular? Do you think a disaster like this could occur? If so, is it better to try and prepare or better not to worry about something we can't control?
- In theaters: May 29, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: October 13, 2015
- Cast: Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Alexandra Daddario, Carla Gugino
- Director: Brad Peyton
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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