Pearl Harbor parents guide

Pearl Harbor Parent Guide

The famous WWII attack is depicted with lots of artistic license.

Overall C+

In recreating the events surrounding the WWII attack on Pearl Harbor, director Michael Bay has tried to do it all---a romance for the girls, with not one but two gorgeous heroes, and enough body-throwing, ship-sinking explosions to keep any guy glued to his seat--all this in only three hours.

Release date May 25, 2001

Violence C-
Sexual Content C
Profanity C
Substance Use C+

Why is Pearl Harbor rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Pearl Harbor PG-13 for sustained, intense war sequences, images of wounded, brief sensuality and some language.

Run Time: 183 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Director Michael Bay has tried to do it all---a romance for the girls with not one but two gorgeous heroes, and enough body-throwing, ship-sinking explosions to keep any guy glued to his seat--all this in only three hours.

Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and his best friend Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett) are swept up in the frenzy that precedes WWII. As ace pilots, they are invaluable American assets and of particular interest to navy nurse, Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale). But three's a crowd when it comes to love and that causes some not-so-friendly fire between the childhood buddies. Fortunately Evelyn's dilemma (and the love story) is postponed while the US Navy deals with a surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For a good forty minutes, air bombers, shellfire and torpedo assaults wreak havoc on the Hawaiian paradise and send military personnel scrambling to contain the damage.

While the intense war violence includes spurting blood, burned bodies and drowning soldiers, Bay keeps a relative check on the gory details. But he gives us plenty of implied sexual encounters between the soldiers and nurses, and one carefully draped scene on the floor of the parachute hanger. Meanwhile, the film also promotes the notion that love comes only to the beautiful, and despite the unquestionable men to women ration favoring the nurses; only Evelyn wins at the game of undying romance. With an added heavy shot of profanity, this movie has a PG-13 rating that parents should heed.

To lend depth and reality to the film, the director includes portrayals of real life war heroes, Doris "Dorie" Miller--the first Black American to receive the Navy Cross, and Lt. Col James Doolittle who led the retaliatory attack on Tokyo, as well as showing viewers some little known facts about the raid and it's aftermath.

But that doesn't make it a reliable study guide for your next history test. Rather, Pearl Harbor is an ambitious attempt to honor the young men and women who heroically fought a battle they didn't start and to give us a feel for the events of December 7, 1941.

Directed by Michael Bay. Starring Ben Affleck Josh Hartnett Kate Beckinsale Cuba Gooding Jr.. Running time: 183 minutes. Theatrical release May 25, 2001. Updated

Pearl Harbor
Rating & Content Info

Why is Pearl Harbor rated PG-13? Pearl Harbor is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sustained, intense war sequences, images of wounded, brief sensuality and some language.

Overall: C+
While friendship and heroism are strong elements in this movie, the inclusion of intense war violence and some gratuitous sexual encounters may leave parents wanting to watch and discuss this film with their older teens rather than sending them out to the theatre on their own.

Violence: C-
Father argues with and hits son, boy hits man with piece of wood, couple steal police boat, blood spattered on inside of cockpit, reference made to men killed in action, extended scene of battle between bomber planes, plane crashes into ocean, fight in a bar, extended and intense depiction of air attack with torpedoes hitting ships, bullets being sprayed from planes, explosions, men blown in air, men drown, men shown dying, woman killed by bomb, men bleeding and burned, men shot down on streets, use of guns, men attempt to free soldiers caught underwater; hospital scene includes many bloody and burned men, intense scenes of hospital personnel attending wounded, hospital bombed with patients inside, blood squirting from man’s neck, pile of dead bodies, blood spattered on window, blood being mopped from the floor; dead bodies shown floating in water, rows of coffins shown after battle, men bomb factories and buildings, planes crash into field, plane shot down, hand to hand combat with enemy, shots fired, man dies from shots, blood shown.

Sexual Content: C-
Men talk of having sexual relations with women, men shown with only towels around waist during enlistment medicals, bare chests and some bare skin from behind in shown on this occasion and at least 2 others, woman comments on man’s body, kissing between unmarried couples shown at least 6 times, man holds hand low on woman’s back and she comments about it, insinuation of unmarried couples having sexual encounters, man paints breasts on his plane, men shown in loin cloth, unmarried couple engage in sex, shoulder and back nudity shown, unmarried woman becomes pregnant.

Language: C
At least: 20 mild profanities, 25 moderate profanities and 25 terms of Deity.

Alcohol / Drug Use: C+
Couple drinks champagne, several occasions shown of soldiers and nurses drinking at parties, men smoke cigars at party, man smoking pipe, men and women toast dead soldier at funeral, men drink when upset, men smoke cigarettes, men drink before battle, hospital personnel use morphine for injured soldiers, men shown smoking during tense situations.

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Pearl Harbor Parents' Guide

During a night on the town, one soldier abstains from engaging in the passionate encounters of the evening, saying that he wants to come back from fighting knowing the best part of life is still ahead. Do you think it was difficult for him to abstain? Did this show his true love and respect for the young woman he was with that night?

“A brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war.” What did Admiral Yamamoto mean by this? Do you think he had some hesitations about the war and realized the danger he was putting his own young Japanese soldiers into during the attack?

How were minorities portrayed in this film including the black soldiers and President Roosevelt’s assistant? How many native Hawaiians did you see in this movie?

Check here for more information about the real Pearl Harbor attack.

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Pearl Harbor movie is December 4, 2001. Here are some details…

DVD Release Information:

  • Studio: Touchstone
  • Theatrical release date: May 25, 2001
  • DVD release date: December 4, 2001
  • Runtime: 183 minutes
  • Production company: Walt Disney
  • Package type: Keep case
  • Aspect ratio: Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1
  • DVD encoding: Region 1
  • Available audio tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS).
DVD Extras:
  • Introduction by director Michael Bay
  • Documentary—Pearl Harbor veterans return to U.S.S. Arizona memorial
  • Documentary—The real attack
  • Documentary—The unsung heroes
  • Music video—Faith Hill, There You’ll Be
  • Cast interviews

Related home video titles:

Perhaps a better viewing choice for families is the 1970 movie adaptation of this historical battle called, Tora! Tora! Tora!—a film that portrays the events with minimal violence, some mild profanities, and no romance.

Disney’s Pearl Harbor is similar to Titanic, in that it suffers from getting lost in the romance of it’s fictitious characters who are set in the midst of a real-life tragic occurrence.

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