A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that kids will hear be exposed to some violent and scary situations. Bodies are flung like confetti in the wake of a tidal wave; some bloody injuries and many deaths result. There are frequent sprinklings of moderately salty language and a reference to a passenger's former career as a prostitute. But the film also emphasizes strength of character, determination, courage and ingenuity in the face of calamity, too.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After a luxury cruise ship capsizes en route from New York to Athens, a handful of desperate survivors work against time for a slim chance at rescue. An all-star cast led by Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine fires up this occasionally stilted 1972 Irwin Allen classic. If you thought James Cameron's Titanic was too smarmy, hop aboard. Shortly after midnight on New Year's Day, with confetti still raining down over the ballroom, the topheavy luxury cruiser S.S. Titanic encounters a 90-foot tidal wave and goes belly-up. The survivors divide into two groups: those who will remain where they are and await help, and those who follow impassioned Reverend Scott (Hackman) as he forges upward toward what is now the bottom of the ship, and their best chance for rescue. The dwindling group meets its share of catastrophic obstacles -- from explosions and flooding passages to their own crippling fear and uncertainty -- as the water rises higher in the sinking ship, cutting off all but one route of escape, and cutting their time short.
Is it any good?
Part of what makes the movie so effective is the novelty of seeing people trapped in a world literally turned upside-down. Barber chairs and toilets dangle eerily from the ceiling, and a giant artificial Christmas tree becomes a ladder to a higher deck that was once underneath. Adults who saw it in 1972 will find it still gripping, but not too intense for young teens. The blood is modest, and the cameras don't linger unduly on the dead.
There are more familiar faces in THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE than you'd find on a Love Boat reunion cruise: Roddy McDowall, Oscar nominee Shelley Winters, and Leslie Nielsen as the stony-faced captain. The characters themselves are a bit silly, but they all react realistically under duress. They sweat and yell at each other, and their clothes get messy. Gene Hackman binds the cast together as the fiery reverend who preaches that strength comes not from God, but from within. He proves his point.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why people enjoy disaster films, and why they became so popular in the 1970s. Families interested in film history can research how disaster films fit into a post-WWII world with increasing access to technology/technological advances, and they can also learn about the advances in special effects that play a major part in disaster films.
- In theaters: December 13, 1972
- On DVD or streaming: August 18, 1998
- Cast: Ernest Borgnine, Gene Hackman, Shelley Winters
- Director: Ronald Neame
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: parental guidance suggested
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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