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To Be or Not to Be (1983)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
To Be or Not to Be is a Mel Brooks' remake of the 1942 film of the same name. Polish theater stars (and married couple) Frederick (Mel Brooks) and Anna Bronski (Anne Bancroft) get tangled up in a secret plot to save members of the Polish underground. When Andre Sobinski (Tim Matherson), Anna's would-be-lover, asks for her help capturing a traitor, the couple risks their own lives to aid Andre and save their countrymen. Hitler is impersonated, dead bodies show up unexpectedly, and an entire theater troupe joins in to stop the Nazis and escape from Poland.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role of Hamlet in the movie. Why do you think the Shakespeare play plays such a central role in the movie? What themes in the play mirror the movie?
Why do you think Mel Brooks chose to remake the 1942 film? Do you think it was less relevant in the 1980s than it was in the 1940s?
For kids who love comedies
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