A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Despite the requisite underlying themes of friendship and loyalty, there are a couple of shady messages about what it takes to succeed as a woman (be beautiful and sexy) and a few negative stereotypes and jokes.
Positive Role Models
Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and the other Autobots are extremely loyal to Sam and humans in general, even when the government turns against them. Sam also will stop at nothing to help his Autobot friends and to save the love of his life. Other characters are brave, but it's their job to defend the innocent.
Violence & Scariness
Incessant loud, explosion-based violence, usually featuring the robotic Transformers and human beings. The evil Transformers don't care about collateral human damage, and they routinely cause mass destruction to buildings, bridges, cars, and even national monuments like the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. There's a high body count, even though the camera never lingers on any human death (it does linger on Transformer deaths, including those of sympathetic secondary characters and one that's particularly gruesome). The military (including the Air Force special ops and Navy SEALs) uses technologically advanced weapons and gear to battle the Transformers that are threatening to turn humans into a slave race.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No outright sex, but every scene Carly is in features her in either underwear (the actress is a famous Victoria's Secret model) or a revealing outfit. She and Sam kiss in bed and several other times. Her entire purpose is to be attractive and have others make comments about her "hotness." Sam's mother makes inappropriate references to sex and even speculates about how "big" he is to have had two gorgeous girlfriends. In one scene, a sexily dressed Latina character is referred to as a "hoochie mama," and her anger is called a "Latin meltdown."
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Surprisingly frequent use of the following words: "a--hole," "bitch," "s--t," "hell," "damn," "crap," "ass," "d--khead," and "oh my God." One mouthed "f--k," and one memorably (and humorously) said "clusterf--k."
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Products & Purchases
Not only is the entire series based on Hasbro toys, but there's also an extremely high number of product placements: from cars (General Motors, Mercedes, Corvette, and more) to electronics (Apple computers, iPad, Lenovo desktops) to water (Arrowhead) and apparel (Adidas, Nike, etc.).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
At a couple of dinner parties, adults are shown briefly with glasses in hand.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Transformers: Dark of the Moon is third installment in the blockbuster Transformers franchise. It's less crude than the first sequel but more violent than the original. Tween and teen boys in particular will be interested in seeing this movie, but even younger kids who are familiar with the Hasbro toys may be curious about yet another live-action adaptation. Like all of director Michael Bay's films, there's a constant threat to all the characters -- in fact, humanity in general -- and an accompanying body count to match that sense of peril. Some robot deaths are particularly startling. Language is edgy, with frequent uses of "a--hole," "bitch," and "s--t" and two variations on the F-bomb. This is a dream movie for car, weapon, and military aficionados, but not so much for young girls, since the only three women in the film are stereotypes -– the young blond "hottie," the tough older careerist, and the wisecracking middle-aged mom. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It's not likely to be the movie of the summer like the original in 2007, but if you've got a teen boy, it's going to be a must-see nonetheless. The target audience for Transformers: Dark of the Moon probably doesn't care whether it's good or not; they just want their fix of Michael Bay's signature explosions, metal-on-metal battles, and scantily clad damsels in distress. More discerning audiences, however, will be slightly reassured that this installment is better than the awful Revenge of the Fallen; for one, there's less offensive material (although there are still some squicky lines, like when Mrs. Witwicky muses whether her son's got some hidden "skills" that are responsible for him landing two such "world-class hotties" as girlfriends), and secondly, you might not want to leave 20 minutes into the movie.
But just because this "threequel" is mediocre rather than horrible doesn't make it worth two-and-a-half hours of an audience's time. It's laughable (when will screenwriters realize that a woman can't run for her life in stilettos?) and in desperate need of a merciless editor (this isn't an epic like The Lord of the Rings, so there's no need for it to be over two hours). The best part is seeing McDormand and pal John Turturro joke with each other on what was probably the easiest acting job of their careers. Of course, young boys will get a kick out of the Transformer battles, the space-race history lesson, and living vicariously through Sam (whom every male -- human or Transformer -- calls "lucky" for having the babelicious girl on his arm).
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.