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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie champions standing up for what's right, even at the risk of personal comfort or safety. It suggests that, if we find ourselves in that position, it's the right thing to do, and we won't be alone.
Positive Role Models
Edward Snowden is a controversial figure in real life, which the movie touches on a bit. But the bulk of it portrays him as a hero who becomes alarmed at what he sees and eventually reaches a breaking point at which he risks everything to do the right thing.
Violence & Scariness
Explosions from drone strikes. Men hunt, shoot, and kill birds. Painful injured leg, falling from a top bunk. Epileptic seizures.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Fairly graphic sex scene; a woman straddles a man and is viewed from the side. Topless photos on computer screen. Reference to a young man "banging" several women. A woman undresses on a webcam; black underwear shown. Women dance on poles in an adult club (no nudity). Sexual reference written in an email. Women take a pole-dancing class.
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Several uses of "f--k." Also "s--t," "bitch," "damn," "hell," "ass," "dick," "boob," "Jesus" (as an exclamation), and "whorehouse."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Social drinking and smoking by secondary characters. Snowden announces that he doesn't drink or do drugs. Reference to a young woman taking too many sleeping pills.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Snowden is director Oliver Stone's biopic about Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who leaked classified information in 2013 proving that the U.S. government was using technology to spy on American citizens. The movie has some fairly graphic sexual material, including a sex scene, topless photos on a computer screen, and pole dancing. There's also strong language ("f--k" and "s--t"), and Snowden is shown having epileptic seizures. Other scenes show drone strikes and explosions, and there are sequences of hunting (birds are shot with rifles) and a character breaking his leg. Secondary characters smoke and drink socially, but Snowden declares that he doesn't drink or do drugs. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
In Oliver Stone's biopic, the controversial Snowden is definitely portrayed as a hero, shown in a soft, emotional light that inspires hope, even if it lacks the righteousness of Stone's early work. Through skillful filmmaking, Snowden tells both the biographical and emotional journey of its main character (played convincingly by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). He starts out as an idealistic believer in his country but becomes more and more alarmed, disillusioned, and guilty -- all of which leads to action.
Many of the details of Snowden's story were already covered in Laura Poitras' essential, Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour (2014), which is a much more powerful movie. But in that film, the real Snowden is all business, while Stone's version at least offers a warmer side to the whistleblower. Together, the two movies could provide a more complete picture of who he really is. Stone finishes Snowden with a coda that's designed to inspire, but it feels a little light and perhaps not as relevant as it once might have been.
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.