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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Though you could argue that the movie has some kind of takeaway involving teamwork and friendship, really it's all just an excuse to blow stuff up.
Positive Role Models
Sam deceives his parents, but he also saves Mikaela from a bad boyfriend -- and the world from bad robots. Mikaela has a criminal record and can hotwire cars, though she stands up for herself. Maggie is clever and competent at her job as an analyst.
Follows a White male lead and has a cast of mostly White men. Black and Latino characters appear in minor roles, clichéd as low-income swindlers or military men. A racist scene involves a large group of White FBI agents in tactical gear and assault rifles storming a Black man's house with guns ablaze -- there's a grandmother in the house (mentioned but not seen), and the White agents pin down one Black man while chasing after another -- it's played for humor. Women of color (with speaking roles) are nonexistent. White women have supporting roles as Sam's love interest, Mikaela, and an analyst named Maggie. Both are portrayed as clever, but they're objectified; in one scene, a camera pans up and down Mikaela's body, and the main character's friend calls her a "concubine," saying "bros before hos." Male characters have a little body diversity, but all women are extremely thin and follow conventional/unrealistic standards of beauty.
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Violence & Scariness
Early attack by alien robots results in fiery explosions and bodies flying. Transformer attack at car dealership (loud noise, car windows blow out). Huge battle in the desert (robots vs. Air Force). Transformers attack Sam and Mikaela (lots of chasing, crashing, noise). Flashback shows destruction of Transformers' planet. Little robot monster with sharp limbs terrorizes humans and infiltrates Air Force One. FBI agents in tactical gear and assault rifles storm a Black man's house with guns ablaze -- there's a grandmother in the house (mentioned but not seen), and the White agents pin down one Black man while chasing after another -- it's played for humor. A long fight scene in city streets includes more explosions, shootings, missiles, and bodies. At one point, the villain transforms into a plane and flies into a skyscraper -- images that may remind viewers of 9/11.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mikaela wears a cleavage-showing midriff top. Bikini girl posters in Sam's bedroom. Miles calls Mikaela "the evil jock's concubine." Miles reminds Sam that it's "bros before hos." Song "Sexual Healing" on car radio. Close-ups of Mikaela's sweaty belly from Sam's POV; Sam says "I'm cool with females working on my engine." Sam says he keeps a magazine called Busty Beauties under his bed. Glen admits he's still a virgin (this appears to be a joke at his expense). Following a noise in his room, Sam's mom asks him, "Were you masturbating?" Sam's online username is "Ladiesman217."
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Language includes a couple of incomplete uses of "f--k," plus "s--t" (multiple uses), "damn," "crap," "bitch," "ass," "crackhead," "friggin'," "hell," and a spelled-out "bee-otch" on Sam's car freshener. He calls a psychiatric ward a "psycho ward."
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Products & Purchases
The entire film is virtually a commercial for Hasbro toys (the company is listed as both a production company and the maker of Transformers action figures). Visual or verbal references to Apple, eBay, Camaro, Austin-Healey, Porsche, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Volkswagen, musicians (50 Cent, Garbage, The Strokes, Rage Against the Machine), the Washington Commanders (using their previous racist name, the "Redskins"), Armageddon, Ding Dongs, Taco Bell, Nokia, Mountain Dew, Star Trek, and GM vehicles (most of the Autobots are modeled on GM cars). Bumblebee speaks in bits of commercials and TV shows ("Message from Starfleet, Captain").
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Sam's dog takes pain pills (he calls the dog a "crackhead"); Sam asks Agent Simmons whether he's "on drugs."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Transformers is an explosion-heavy action movie based on the 1980s cartoon and action figures. It's packed with scenes of loud, hectic combat (including gunfire and a scene of White uniformed FBI agents using assault rifles on Black men), destruction, and flying missiles and bodies. Characters swear ("bitch," "s--t," "damn," a couple of incomplete "f--ks," etc.), and there's some sexual imagery (shots of cleavage and a short-skirted bottom, jokes about masturbation and virginity, and more). Racial stereotypes involve showing Black and Latino men as low-income workers, swindlers, and military men. Women of color (with speaking roles) are nonexistent. Female characters are portrayed as clever, but they're also objectified, wearing revealing clothes and high heels while the camera lingers on their body parts. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Big and boomy, this toy-based movie skimps on plot and character development, instead focusing on its decidedly spectacular explosions. Though the opening voice-over offers a cursory backstory, it hardly matters why these giant robots have come to Earth. The point is much simpler: They blow stuff up. Just keep in mind that Transformers is most likely too intense for the kids who are the most interested in playing with Transformers toys.
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.