Super 8 parents guide

Super 8 Parent Guide

Unfortunately, though this production is aimed at teens, it isn't quite as innocent as that Spielberg's earlier extraterrestrial's visit was.

Overall C+

In 1979, while making their own homemade movie with a Super 8 camera, a group of children witness a horrific train accident. After the event the whole town suddenly seems plagued with inexplicable problems and mysterious disappearances.

Release date June 10, 2011

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

Why is Super 8 rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Super 8 PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence and some drug use.

Run Time: 112 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

The ghost of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. seems to hover in the wings of J.J. Abrams’ latest sci-fi thriller (which is partly produced by the famous E.T. director). But dealing with alien life forms isn’t a stretch for Abrams who also called the shots for the 2009 space adventure Star Trek. Now he brings audiences a tale that’s a little closer to home.

In Ohio during the late 1970s, an aspiring adolescent filmmaker has cajoled his middle school friends (Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Gabriel Basso, Joel Courtney) into helping him make a movie for the upcoming Cleveland Film Festival. Charles Kaznyk (Riley Griffiths) even persuades the pretty but reserved Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) to play the female lead in the zombie flick.

Then after sneaking out one night in a stolen car operated by an unlicensed driver, the underage film crew witnesses a horrific train wreck and receives an ominous warning to keep quiet from a bloody victim of the accident.

Each of them deals differently with the aftermath of the incident. Some just want to forget it while Charles sees the smoldering debris as the perfect backdrop for his production. But Joe Lamb (Courtney) becomes curious about the train’s cargo after strange things begin happening around the small town of Lillian where his father Jack (Kyle Chandler) works as a sheriff’s deputy.

For viewers, Abram’s well-paced story captures the innocence and sincerity of these young characters and their lives in a small Midwestern town. The opening scene reveals that Joe’s mother has recently died in a job-related accident. Her death seems like it should have more impact on her son, yet for the most part it becomes a secondary storyline. The real thrust of the script focuses on the young friends as they carry on with their filmmaking efforts even as their town is inundated with tight-lipped military personnel who scour the streets in search of something.

Unfortunately, though this production is aimed at teens, it isn’t quite as innocent as that earlier extraterrestrial’s visit was. Along with the massive explosions and endless rounds of military ammunition are several scenes of bloody injuries and even death. When approached by a part-time drug pusher (David Gallagher), this group of young teens has the good sense to refuse an invitation to smoke pot. They aren’t, however, as good at controlling the almost constant stream of profanities that pour out of their mouths. While the language may be authentic to the time and situation, the dozens and dozens of scatological slang terms and other profanities are an unfortunate inclusion in a script that otherwise could be one of those rare, engaging action adventures for young audiences.

Directed by J.J. Abrams . Starring Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Gabriel Basso, Noah Emmerich, Ron Eldard, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills.. Running time: 112 minutes. Theatrical release June 10, 2011. Updated

Super 8
Rating & Content Info

Why is Super 8 rated PG-13? Super 8 is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence and some drug use.

Violence: Scenes of horrific explosions and intense military gunfire are seen along with some bloody and injured accident victims. A woman’s death in a job-related accident is discussed on several occasions. Blood pours from the mouth of an injured character after he is supposedly impaled in the head by nails. An unseen force snatches characters, scares off animals and destroys property. Unlicensed adolescents steal and drive cars. A scared character vomits repeatedly. A man is tortured and presumably killed by injecting him with a drug. A character is attacked and his blood splatters across a window. An alien eats humans. Frequent intense depictions of an alien attack are shown.

Sexual Content: A girl wears skimpy clothing on several occasions. Brief comments are made about a girl’s looks. A character shows interest in a boy to get what she wants from him.

Language: Teens and adults frequently use scatological slang and terms of Deity. The script also includes sexual terms in a nonsexual context, a strong sexual expletive and mild profanities.

Alcohol / Drug Use: A man asks a teen if he wants to buy illegal drugs. The adult character later smokes the drug and drives in a stoned state. Some cigarette and alcohol use by adults is shown.

Other: One teen character makes and detonates fireworks and other low level explosives.

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More parents' guide for Super 8 after the break...

Super 8 Parents' Guide

While the train wreck is a high action point of the film, how realistic is it? Would the driver of the truck survive such an impact? Watch the first part of this trailer and see what you think?

How does this film portray the man who offers drugs to the kids? Is he a cool character? What does their response to him say about these young teens? What message does this film make about illegal drug use?

Get ideas for encouraging your kids to make their own movies in this Big Picture article.

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Super 8 movie is November 22, 2011. Here are some details…

Home Video Notes: Super 8

Release Date: 18 October 2011

On October 18, 2011, Super 8 releases to home video. The Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack includes:

- Commentary by writer/director J.J. Abrams, producer Bryan Burk and cinematographer Larry Fong.

- The Visitor Lives

-The Dream Behind Super 8

- The 8mm Revolution

- Deconstructing the Train Crash

- Deleted Scenes

- The Search for New Faces

- Meet Joel Courtney

- Rediscovering Steel Town

- Scoring Super 8

- Do You Believe in Magic?

Related home video titles:

A group of young adults capture a monster attack on New York City with the help of a video camera in Cloverfield. Elle Fanning, younger sister of Dakota Fanning, got her first role in a movie playing a younger version of her sister in the movie I Am Sam. She has also starred in the dramas Déjà Vu, Reservation Road and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.