Parents' Guide to

War of the Buttons

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

WWII drama is overly cute but has worthy lessons for tweens.

Movie PG-13 2012 100 minutes
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Texier is particularly good playing the charismatic leader who falls for the brainy and beautiful (and secretly Jewish) new girl. WAR OF THE BUTTONS is the latest adaptation of Louis Pergaud's famous 1912 French novel -- this time set during World War II to add in themes of the Resistance, defiance, and tolerance. As Lebrac and his acolytes fight the neighboring clique, their lives are impacted by the appearance of the mysterious Violette in their one-room school.

As for the adults in the story, there's a predictable romance between schoolteacher Paul (Patrick Dempsey lookalike Guillaume Canet) and the gorgeous Simone, who were together before she left for -- and returned from -- Paris. Paul is one of several characters in the movie who aren't what they seem. Lebrac might seem like a dim bulb, but he's a brilliant strategist; his father looks like a cowardly tyrant, but he's actually braver than Lebrac could ever imagine. Ultimately, the boys' war ends when they realize there's a bigger enemy than each other, and even young viewers will realize how disturbingly easy it is to become merciless under the banner of war.

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