A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Amid the chaos of life in a war zone (which is unstable at best and shows characters dealing with their circumstances through drinking, drugs, and casual sex) is the idea that it's never too late to reinvent yourself.
Positive Role Models
Flawed, headstrong, and sometimes reckless, Kim is nonetheless good at her job; she's unafraid to ask the questions that need to be asked and is willing to train her own journalistic eye on herself. But overall, characters make lots of choices that are iffy at best. Also, two of the more prominent Afghan characters are played by Caucasian actors.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent, much in a war context. Land mines explode, mortar shells go off, people are dismembered and killed, gunfights, men scream at women about how they dress on the streets, and more. Demonstrations sometimes get violent, too.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing, groping, and making out. Nudity limited to bare shoulders under a sheet. Brief snippets of porn are glimpsed on a computer screen. Frank talk about people needing to have sex with others to pass the time in Kabul.
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Nearly constant use of everything from ""f--k" and "c--t" to "ass," "bulls--t," "p---y," and more.
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Products & Purchases
Brands/labels seen/mentioned include Mercedes-Benz, North Face, and more.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lots of drinking; it seems to be what sustains and/or comforts many war correspondents. Cocaine is spotted at parties; partiers also smoke with hookahs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a dramedy based on journalist Kim Barker's memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Despite starring Tina Fey, the movie is by no means all laughs; rather, it's a fairly unflinching look at life in a war zone, including bombings and gunfights (some of which result in deaths), as well as political instability (as characterized in tension-filled scenes that show sometimes-violent demonstrations) and the ways in which journalists cope in such unstable conditions -- methods that include lots of alcohol and dangerous career decisions. Expect tons of swearing (including "f--k" and more), plus hard drinking (with an occasional foray into cocaine), innuendo, kissing/groping, a quick glimpse of porn on a computer screen, and implied sex. The film has also drawn some controversy for casting white actors as as some of the Afghan characters. 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 by no means perfect, but in some ways, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot goes further than other films in communicating what the war correspondent experience really is like. It doesn't just reveal the highs -- the journalistic scoops, the adrenaline-spiking wins -- it also frankly deals with the some of the lows, primarily the chaos and dislocation that both soldiers and the media encounter when dropped into embattled countries like Afghanistan. But here's where the film taps out: capturing what happens when they're settled in, so to speak. Though it does show the characters slowly normalizing what's a decidedly not-normal existence, it would seem -- at least based on what we see here -- that the usual way anyone copes in such circumstances is through drinking, drugs, and casual sex. No doubt that's likely accurate, but there's an inordinate focus on that stuff (even though the film takes great pains to impart the fact that such extracurriculars don't really work that well, or for long) when larger questions loom: How do journalists' expectations and approach to their work shift when they witness the day-to-day existence of the citizens in the country they cover? How do they maintain ties back home? Can they?
Also problematic, though not enough for it to entirely detract from the film's strengths, is the tone. The yearning to keep things light when making a movie about a subject so dark is understandable. But Whiskey tries too hard to do so, giving it a more-dangerous-and-with-bigger-stakes Eat Pray Love vibe that it doesn't deserve. Fey is winning, displaying a burgeoning ability to balance both pathos and comedy, but treading that line isn't always successful, and the movie's humor chips away at some of the potency of the more serious moments. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is worth a watch, but it could have been more of a contender.
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.