Tucker: The Man and His Dream

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Tucker: The Man and His Dream Movie Poster Image
Rousing dramedy about corruption has cursing, smoking.
  • PG
  • 1988
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Movie glorifies the ingenuity and creativity of American inventors when they're allowed to thrive in the free-enterprise system and uses the story of Preston Tucker to explore what happens when Big Government and Big Business conspire to thwart the ingenuity and creativity of "the little guy." Movie uses irony to underscore what happens in the future when Tucker, on trial and pleading his case, warns that if the "Big Three" remain hostile to innovation, the countries the United States fought against in World War II will be the ones producing high-quality automobiles; this prediction is greeted by incredulous laughter throughout the courtroom. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Preston Tucker maintains a positive, can-do attitude despite facing difficulties in making the car he planned and designed a reality -- both in the factory and when standing up to the Big Three automakers and the politicians and bureaucrats they have paid off. 

Violence

A car rolls with someone in it (no injuries). Preston shows photos of people killed in car accidents. A woman faints. A fire starts under a car.

Sex

Preston and Vera kiss and later make out on a bed (clothes on). Tucker jokingly changes "Pandora's Box" to "Aunt Dora's Box."

Language

Some swearing, most notably several uses of the words "damn" and "hell." Also used: "goddammit," "bastards," "son of a bitch," "pr--k," and "ass." Someone calls a Japanese man a "Jap." The way characters use the phrase "New Yorker," it's clear it's a stand-in for "Jew." Characters demean women, calling Vera "the little woman." 

Consumerism

The "Big Three" automakers are continually referenced, typically in a negative context. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Most characters smoke constantly, including Tucker and Vera. Men smoke cigars. Characters drink martinis and champagne. Tucker and other men drink liquor from a bottle. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tucker: The Man and His Dream is a 1988 movie in which Jeff Bridges plays a post-WWII inventor who creates a groundbreaking automobile. Many of the characters smoke cigarettes and pipes. Characters drink martinis, beer, and whiskey. Some profanity is heard, including "damn," "hell," "goddammit," "bastards," "son of a bitch," "pr--k," and "ass." Some kissing is seen. Expect discrimination typical of the era: Abe calls Preston's partner a "Jap," and Preston says that Jimmy's family is all in a relocation camp. Characters also use the phrase "New Yorker" to mean "Jewish" when speaking of Abe. And Bennington calls Vera "the little woman" in a belittling way. Also, some images of people killed and bloodied in car accidents may be too much for younger or more sensitive viewers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 13 year old Written bycolten97 October 10, 2012

This movie has style

Every decade has a style. The 1940's after the war had a very slick style. This movie has plenty of this slick style. The music is some of the best swing a... Continue reading

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What's the story?

TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM chronicles the struggles of ahead-of-his-time inventor Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges), who finds inspiration from a poll stating that 87 percent of people coming back from World War II want a new car. Behold the Tucker: A car with all kinds of bells and whistles that didn't exist at that time, including fuel injection, seatbelts, disc brakes, and roll bars. And he'll even make it look like a jet and put the engine in the rear. He could make a bundle! Tucker's dream has a chance to become a reality when he gets a friend to write an article extolling the virtues of a car he has not yet manufactured, and when he gains the business sense of Abe Karatz (Martin Landau). But when faced with the corruption of elected officials and a board of directors bent on tabling all his innovative ideas, what will happen to his invention? The answer may surprise you.

Is it any good?

This film could have been one long, self-righteous screed against corporations, à la An Unreasonable Man, but fortunately it's directed by the legendary Francis Ford Coppola. He makes his characters lovable, charming, even impish, and makes the telling of the story as important as the point it has to make. Kids and families will find lots to discuss and enjoy together. They may even be inspired to learn more about the real-life visionary this movie is based on.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the kind of work it takes to pursue a dream. Was Tucker a dreamer, a businessman, or an inventor? He did research, he worked with engineers, and he was a great salesman. Do you have to be all those things to start a new company? Do you have to lie?

  • How does the movie use irony to make a broader point about what happens when the creativity and ingenuity of inventors is stifled by big business interests?

  • What are the ways in which movies bring the past to life? How does this movie use clothing, music, slang, and dated cultural behaviors to show us a period in time?

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