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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Witness has just a couple scenes of intense violence, including a murder where the victim's throat is cut while a young boy watches. There is also some sexual tension between a man and woman with an extended scene of the woman bathing where her breasts are visible. A bit of strong language, including "f--k," pops up during confrontations between the clearly distinguished "good" and "bad" guys.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
While visiting Philadelphia, a young Amish boy become a WITNESS to a murder, and the killers want to find a way to silence him, permanently. Officer John Book (Harrison Ford) becomes the protector, but when the bad guys decide to target him as well, he decides that the best place to hide out is the child's family farm. Book soon learns to relax among the Amish, a people who stay away from violence and most types of modern life, including electricity and cars. But the peaceful setting is disrupted when the gang shows up.
Is it any good?
Witness is a well made fish-out-of-water story, contrasting the violence and complications of the big city with the simpler lifestyle of the Amish, who decline modern technology. Book is initially perplexed by their choices, but gradually comes to appreciate their quiet ways. However, it's clear he doesn't fit in, especially when a gang of prejudiced punks insult his hosts and the hot-headed cop is unable to turn the other cheek. Nor is there any way that the spark between Book and the young witness' widowed mother (Kelly McGillis) could ever become a real relationship, and they both know it.
The main reason he's there is to watch over the boy, and Ford is best in this film when he's playing protector. His sense of outrage is palpable, as is his determination to see that justice is done. The Amish don't condone his methods, but in the end they realize that the cop's way -- the violent way -- is the only way to ensure their safety. Everyone grows a bit more tolerant of others here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between John Book's and the Amish people's approach to conflict resolution. Which do you think the movie supports? How can you tell?
Are there ever movies without a love interest or some kind of romantic tension? What does romance add to a movie?
For kids who love drama
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.