A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Dead Pool, a 1988 installment in the Dirty Harry series starring Clint Eastwood, is a violent love song to cops who care more about stopping criminals than about playing by the rules. The gory spectacle includes bloody wounds, knifings, shootings, car chases, explosions, a man setting himself on fire, and a man injecting an opiate into his arm and then dying of an overdose. Adults smoke cigarettes and drink wine and beer. Expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," "bitch," and "ass." Harry goes to bed with a female reporter, but no sex or body parts are seen.
What's the story?
In THE DEAD POOL, for once the ordinarily rogue cop Inspector (Dirty) Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) has garnered good press for the police department. Harry says no to being paraded in front of the press, but his renown puts him on a list predicting the deaths of celebrities. The first to die is a singer and actor working on a horror film. When other people on the list start dying violent deaths, Harry is back in the news. Although he disdains the press for what he perceives as its interest in getting the story over public responsibility, he becomes involved with a reporter (Patricia Clarkson) who is covering the murders. As usual, he ignores his superiors, who think they've identified the killer. And, as always, Harry is proved right in the end.
Is it any good?
The Dead Pool reliably follows the formula of the Dirty Harry police dramas, and some might find that repetition tedious. As always, Harry must fight his superiors on the force as well as the criminals threatening the public. The formula becomes more difficult to ignore as the franchise continues, but mostly solid performances and nonstop action here make the predictability more forgivable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie expects viewers to tell good guys from bad guys when police are killing unarmed criminals in the back. Is this a mixed message? Why, or why not?
Harry casually goes to bed with various women in the Dirty Harry movies. How do you think the movie wants the audience to view his sexual encounters? Do you think he will have a long-term relationship with the reporter? Do you think he's interested in long-term relationships? Why, or why not?
How does The Dead Pool compare to the other movies in the Dirty Harry series?
- In theaters: September 7, 1988
- On DVD or streaming: November 20, 2001
- Cast: Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson
- Director: Buddy Van Horn
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: for Strong Violence, Language and Brief Drug Use
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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