The Hunger Games Parent Guide
Although the script may also spur important discussions about freedom, the consequences of war and, ironically, our insatiable appetite for viewing violence in media, parents should still be cautious.
Parent Movie Review
President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is the dictator of a post-apocalyptic country called Panem, where North America once existed. He resides in the highly advanced city called The Capitol, while the rest of the citizens live in 12 districts in various states of poverty. The residents of each are compelled yearly to surrender their teenaged children into a lottery where two dozen unlucky “tributes”—one male and one female from each district—will be forced to fight to their death. When 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) younger sister is selected, she immediately presents her own name instead and volunteers to compete in The Hunger Games.
Katniss is from District 12, a coal mining area that looks like today’s Appalachia, where she supports her distraught mother and younger sister by illegally hunting food along the border—often with her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth). She and the 18-year-old boy share the tragedy of losing their fathers in a mine explosion. Now pulled from her family and Gale’s life, Katniss’ only chance of winning the bloody gladiator-style battle may be her tough upbringing and bow-hunting skills.
The “game” is a big event in The Capitol, with an Olympic-like buildup. The tributes are donned in outlandish costumes and paraded through the city. After the pageantry is complete they are brought to a stage and interviewed by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), the host of the reality television show that covers the sport in great detail. From there the mostly starving and untrained competitors are placed in posh quarters, fed copious amounts of food, and put into a regime to help hone their survival and fighting abilities.
Katniss and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the other tribute from her area, are offered the mentoring services of Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), a drunkard who managed to win the games a few decades earlier. His help does nothing to make the situation look more hopeful for these two kids who hail from the poorest district in the land.
Based on an adolescent novel that has risen to meteoric popularity since it’s early 2008 release, this movie brings the story’s gruesome concept to life with many violent scenes of teens slaying their opponents. Relative to other very violent PG-13 films, the carnage depicted here is muted with fast camera moves and cuts to another scene just as a knife or sword is about to do its bidding. However the stark reality of what is taking place still makes this film a troubling tale. For example, movies like The Dark Knight (also rated PG-13) feature costume-clad characters murdering each other in a fantastical world. In contrast, the young characters in The Hunger Games look like the kids your teens hang out with at school.
A romantic triangle is a small diversion from the main plotline, which admittedly holds your attention entirely during the over two-hour runtime. Teens who have read the books will undoubtedly be interested in viewing this solidly produced movie that contains only a few mild profanities and a kiss between young characters. Although the script may also spur important discussions about freedom, the consequences of war and, ironically, our insatiable appetite for viewing violence in media, parents should still be cautious. It’s important to recognize that, unlike the printed page where a reader’s imagination directs the images that come to mind, on a movie screen the director is in charge—just like the dictator who has arranged The Hunger Games.Directed by Gary Ross. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Willow Shields. Running time: 142 minutes. Theatrical release March 23, 2012. Updated July 8, 2016
The Hunger Games
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Hunger Games rated PG-13? The Hunger Games is rated PG-13 by the MPAA intense violent thematic material and disturbing images -- all involving teens.
Violence: The premise of this film revolves around a competition where two-dozen adolescents are forced to fight to the death until only one survives. They are provided with a variety of weapons (except guns) to accomplish this task. Scenes show teens maiming and killing each other, yet explicit details of blades and arrows puncturing bodies are shown on only a few occasions. Other combat scenes feature a rapidly moving camera or editing that cuts away to obscure violent details. Blood effects are frequent, including close-ups of gory wounds. Some teens band together and plan their offense. The coordinators of the event are dishonest and manipulate the rules of the game and emotions of the contestants. Animals are hunted and killed.
Sexual Content: A teen boy and girl have an obvious attraction to each other. Another teen boy and girl become fond of each other and eventually share a kiss. A girl’s clothes are removed as she is cleaned and prepared for public display, however very little of her body is seen.
Language: At least half a dozen mild profanities are included.
Drugs/Alcohol: An adult character is frequently inebriated. Other characters are seen drinking socially.
Page last updated July 8, 2016
The Hunger Games Parents' Guide
What lessons about war and conflict does this movie intend to teach? What situations in the “real world” might this film reflect? Why do you think the author of the novel used teen characters as the central theme of the conflict?
How does the depiction of violence differ in a realistic portrayal with young characters versus a fantastical movie featuring an adult cast?
The most recent home video release of The Hunger Games movie is August 18, 2012. Here are some details…
Home Video Notes: The Hunger Games
Release Date: 18 August 2012
The Hunger Games releases to home video with the following extras:
- Audio Commentary by Editor Stephen Mirrione, Visual Effects Supervisor Sheena Duggal and Sound Editor Lon Bender
- Game Maker: Suzanne Collins and the Hunger Games Phenomenon
- The World is Watching: Making the Hunger Games
- Letters from the Rose Garden
- Controlling the Games
- A Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell
- Preparing for The Games: A Director’s Process (Blu-ray Exclusive)
- Propaganda Film
- Marketing Archive
Home Video Notes: The Hunger Games: 4-Film Complete Collection
Release Date: 22 March 2016
The Hunger Game releases in a 4-Film Complete Collection (6 Disc set) with the following specials features:
- 12 Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes from The Hunger Games
- 6 Deleted Scenes from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Including 1 Never Before Seen
- 9 Deleted Scenes from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
- 2 All-New Featurettes: “Picturing Panem” and “Capitol Cuisine”
- 70 Additional Featurettes
- Audio Commentaries, Music Videos and More
Related home video titles:
Other Movies in this film franchise include: