The Post

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Post Movie Poster Image
Well-acted, relevant drama about freedom of the press.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 115 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 9 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Strongly reminds viewers of the importance of freedom of the press, not for those who govern but for those who are governed. When Nixon wages war against the New York Times, the Washington Post editor and publisher choose to stand with it and fulfill its mission, even though it makes politicians who are also their friends look irresponsible. Argues that freedom of the press is an essential aspect of American society and that leaders should not act in a dictatorial manner. Graham and many of her colleagues demonstrate integrity in their choices and actions.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kay Graham is a determined, brave woman who follows the path of integrity and duty, even when her many (male) confidants advise her against it. Ben Bradlee believes in standing on the side of freedom of the press, even it has consequences for him and the paper. Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg is portrayed as courageous for leaking the documents in the spirit of transparency and because he believes the American people deserve to know the truth.

Violence

The opening scene takes place during the Vietnam War and shows a battle in which many American soldiers are killed.

Sex
Language

A use of "f--k," plus few uses of "s--t," "goddamn," "hell," "ass," "son of a bitch," "t-t," "Jesus Christ" and "oh my God" as exclamations.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine, champagne, and hard liquor at receptions/dinner parties. Smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Post is director Steven Spielberg's historical drama about how the reporters, editors, and publishers of the Washington Post decided to follow the New York Times' lead and publish the top-secret Pentagon Papers in 1971. Starring Meryl Streep as Post publisher Kay Graham and Tom Hanks as executive editor Ben Bradlee, the drama is sociopolitically relevant and clearly a response to the current presidential administration's antagonistic relationship with the press. The movie promotes the sanctity of freedom of the press and its ability to expose political deceit and corruption. Graham's character also exemplifies how difficult it used to be (and still is) for female bosses to lead without being second-guessed or undermined. There's not much iffy stuff in the movie except for a few swear words and a quick opening scene that takes place during the Vietnam War. Families who watch together can discuss how the story relates to today and why freedom of the press is an important hallmark of American society.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byterra100 December 19, 2017

Absolutely must-see film

I saw this film at a Hollywood advanced screening. The film is riveting. I believe that every man, woman, and child (12 and up) should see this film. It is a... Continue reading
Adult Written byCindi R. January 14, 2018

Important Story Told Well

This story of the Pentagon Papers and politics is a complicated story made accessible and engaging in this film. The many layers , well produced, illustrate wh... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byFantastic Cheese January 5, 2018
Kid, 11 years old January 22, 2018

An essential movie relevant to today

What Spielberg has done with this movie is fantastic. I mean, he turned a talky movie into a interesting drama. Streep and Hanks are a great duo and turn this f... Continue reading

What's the story?

Director Steven Spielberg's THE POST follows the early '70s events leading up to the controversial publication of a classified study about the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers in the Washington Post, after it was first leaked to the New York Times. When Post political reporter Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) discovers that source Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) has the same leaked documents the Times reported, Bagdikian brings a copy to his editor, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks). Bradlee must convince publisher Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) to publish articles that reveal how many administrations knew that America's involvement in the Vietnam War was futile. Graham trusts Bradlee but is cautioned by others against allowing him to publish, because it puts the paper's financial future at risk -- and opens her up to prosecution from the Nixon administration.

Is it any good?

Streep and Hanks shine in Spielberg's timely defense of the press and its freedom to expose corruption -- even when it implicates or embarrasses those in political power. Rather than focusing on Neil Sheehan and the New York Times' scoop of the Pentagon Papers, Spielberg chronicles how the Washington paper of record, and specifically its legendary female publisher, Graham, dealt with the decision to publish Ellsberg's top-secret documents. There was a lot more for Graham to lose by publishing -- the future of her business was at stake -- but she observes and listens to her advisors (all men) and then makes her own decision. Streep, as one would expect, is marvelous as "Mrs. Graham," a wealthy woman thrust into her family business's leadership role after her husband's unexpected suicide. But Graham is much more than a storied hostess and D.C. insider. She's thoughtful and intelligent, and she bravely stands up for herself in the face of concerned -- and condescending -- male confidants.

The acting ensemble is excellent overall, starting at the top with Streep and Hanks and trickling down to supporting players like Tracy Letts and Bradley Whitford as Graham's advisers, Odenkirk as Pulitzer-winning reporter Ben Bagdikian, and Sarah Paulson as Bradlee's then-wife, Tony. It's a master class in acting to watch Streep and Hanks share a scene. Despite Bradlee's outsize personality, Hanks doesn't chew the scenery, and Streep's nuanced performance shines -- especially in the moment when she reminds board members and friends that the newspaper doesn't belong to her late father or her husband, but to her. The events portrayed in The Post may have taken place in the early 1970s, but the themes -- women in power struggling with sexism, the press exposing the president, political cover-ups and corruption -- could have been taken from more recent headlines.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the story of the Post is relevant to today's relationship between politicians and the press. What parallels do you see? What differences?

  • How accurate do you think the movie is to what actually happened? Does the movie make you want to learn more about the history of the Pentagon Papers? Consider reading Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by award-winning nonfiction author Steve Sheinkin.

  • Are Graham and Bradlee role models? How about Daniel Ellsberg? Why, or why not? Describe their character strengths.

  • Why do you think Spielberg decided to concentrate on the Post's decision, rather than the Times'? Does that decision make it more relevant to what's going on between politicians and the press today?

Movie details

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