A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie based on the graphic novel by Dave Stevens can get pretty violent. There are plenty of car chases, aviation disasters, gun fights, and explosions. A mobster holds a character's head close to a restaurant grill, but doesn't cause injury. The bad guys are killed off mainly by gunfire, with the exception of the two nastiest characters who are burned to death. There's some mild language (mostly "damn" and "hell") and sexual content too as a drugged heroine is revived and (unsuccessfully) seduced in the villain's bedroom. Kids will get a bit of a history lesson with the movie's depictions of Howard Hughes and W. C. Fields and a classic newsreel shown in a theater.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Amid the beautifully rendered landscape of 1938 Los Angeles, wholesome Cliff (Bill Campbell), a talented pilot, has his hopes dashed when the plane he has spent three years developing is destroyed during its maiden voyage. When he discovers a rocket pack stowed away in the local hangar, he thinks he has found a way to salvage his flying career. Instead, the FBI, the Mob, and a debonair Nazi all suddenly want what he's got. After some suspenseful chase sequences, Cliff discovers that his new toy is actually America's attempt to catch up to the German war machine. He transforms himself into a jet-powered superhero and saves the world and his girl in the final showdown.
Is it any good?
Visually elegant and fitfully exciting, THE ROCKETEER suffers for its formulaic and occasionally vague plot. As a Nazi-themed action-adventure, the film can't help but bring to mind the funnier and more exciting Raiders of the Lost Ark. While not on par with Raiders, it is, nonetheless, an enjoyable movie that takes some unexpected jabs at old Hollywood.
Amusing performances parody the acting styles of depression-era Saturday matinee serials. As a swashbuckling movie star and Nazi agent, Timothy Dalton oozes villainous charm, but Jennifer Connelly as the aspiring starlet and love interest is less lively than this brand of heroine can be. More winning are Cliff and his aw-shucks brand of American charm. Kids will thrill as Cliff rockets to superhero status. Not as well realized is the mobster subplot. It ends with the unconvincing conversion of these murderous thugs into American patriots, eager (in pre-war 1938, no less) to quash the Nazi threat.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about action movies as a genre. What makes for a good action film? Are they limited in any way?
How is Jenny like most damsels in distress in action movies? How is she different?
Families who enjoy the Iron Man movies can compare them to this film. How are the heroes different?
- In theaters: June 21, 1991
- On DVD or streaming: December 17, 1996
- Cast: Bill Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Timothy Dalton
- Director: Joe Johnston
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: parental guidance suggested.
- Last updated: January 21, 2021
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