A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Although the film is a slapstick comedy, it beautifully captures the message that no one should be persecuted based on their religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or lifestyle. This is best illustrated when one of the characters delivers a version of Shylock's speech from Hamlet to "Hitler" (being impersonated by Mel Brooks): "Hath not a Jew eyes, hath not a Jew hands?"
Positive Role Models
Although some of the characters start out as somewhat poor role models, by the end they all show that there are more important things in life than your own self-interest. Frederick especially proves this by overcoming his dislike of Andre (with whom his wife wanted to have an affair) and working with him to outsmart the Nazis and save his friends and countrymen.
Violence & Scariness
There are several scenes that use old footage from WWII showing the destruction of war. One character is taken by the Gestapo and shown later with a bruised face. Two characters also shoot at each other and one is killed, though his death is behind the scenes and there's no blood or graphic violence shown. His body later shows up in multiple scenes, though it's used in a comedic way and isn't graphic.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No nudity or actual sex scenes are shown, but adult relationships, including adultery, are central to the plot. One of the main characters creates an elaborate plan to have an affair with a pilot, and they're shown kissing and embracing. There's also quite a bit of sexual innuendo around their planned affair. There's also a very stereotypical portrayal of homosexuality and some semi-racy dance costumes.
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While there's no swearing in the movie, Frederick does use a gay slur in the line "Without Jews, fags, and gypsies, there is no theater." A Nazi soldier also refers to a gay character as a "sissy."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that To Be or Not to Be is an over-the-top farce that makes light of usually dark themes like adultery, WWII, and Nazis. There's quite a bit of adult innuendo (though no real sexy stuff is shown), and some goofy violence that isn't very graphic. Although it's a silly comedy, there are some intense scenes and themes that make the film best for older tweens and up. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
If you're a fan of Mel Brooks' comedies or slapstick, you'll love To Be or Not to Be. Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks, who were actually married in real life, are brilliant as Anna and Frederick. And all of the actors seem to be having so much fun with their roles, you can't help but enjoy yourself, too. But what really makes it such a wonderful film are the unexpectedly poignant moments that balance out the humor. Kids may not have much interest, but teen cinema buffs will want to check it out.
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.