Devotion Parent Guide
Educational and interesting, this movie also has positive messages for family audiences.
Parent Movie Review
Naval Aviator Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) is used to being the odd man out: he is the first and only black pilot in the U.S. Navy, having received his wings just after WWII ended, and has been bullied, isolated, and disrespected from day one. His current flight group, Fighter Squadron 32, are a decent bunch – but there’s a new guy. Lt. Tom Hudner (Glen Powell) has just been reassigned to Jesse’s squadron, and has been paired up as Jesse’s wingman. Although Jesse is reticent to trust him, you just can’t fly combat missions without trusting your wingman, and Squadron 32 is going to be flying plenty of those soon enough. They’ve been assigned to the U.S.S. Leyte, and they’re shipping out to support the UN combat mission in Korea. Hopefully, Jesse and Tom will learn how to work as a team before their lives are on the line.
“Based on a true story” is one of those phrases that always makes me prick up my insufferable little history degree ears. How closely based, I immediately wonder. What kinds of source material are they using? How much are they going to dramatize events? What kind of games are they going to play with the timeline? Are they going to invent new characters, or amalgamate real people into one convenient stranger? A cursory read through Jesse Brown’s Wikipedia page seems to indicate that the filmmakers made a reasonable effort to stick to the history – at least for the big stuff. But the longer answer is that I really don’t know how accurate this script is and I always recommend against taking film adaptations “inspired by real events” at face value. If you’re curious, go read a book. It won’t kill you, I pinky promise.
The history might be iffy, but as entertainment, Devotion has a lot going for it. Despite its excessive runtime, the movie manages to be quite compelling. Maybe I’m biased because the movie has a lot of shots of my favourite vintage aircraft (the Vaught F4U-1 Corsair, if you were wondering), and I can watch that thing fly all day. But even if you have not reached my level of nerdiness, Jonathan Majors’ performance ought to keep you occupied. He has remarkably expressive eyes, and he certainly makes the most of them in this film. I was skeptical about Glen Powell when he walked on screen, expecting him to basically play the same over-confident and deeply unpleasant Naval Aviator he just played in Top Gun: Maverick, but he managed to surprise me by depicting a genuine, hardworking, and emotionally vulnerable man. You don’t see a lot of those in war movies, generally speaking.
The good news for parents is that the film is quite mild in the content department. There’s no real sexual material to speak of, and profanity is much less than you would expect in anything set on a naval vessel. What violence there is has very little detail, and no blood or serious injury are seen on-screen. Even more surprisingly, the movie doesn’t feel like an advertisement for the armed forces, or some appeal to unblinking patriotism. It’s a story about personal relationships between people in challenging circumstances, and it tells that story remarkably earnestly.
Directed by J.D. Dillard. Starring Glen Powell, Jonathan Majors, Serinda Swan. Running time: 138 minutes. Theatrical release November 23, 2022. Updated November 23, 2022
Watch the trailer for Devotion
Rating & Content Info
Why is Devotion rated PG-13? Devotion is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for strong language, some war action/violence, and smoking.
Violence: Individuals are injured and killed in airplane crashes and forced landings. Several individuals are shot. A fistfight is seen.
Sexual Content: Couples are seen kissing briefly.
Profanity: There are eight uses of scatological profanity and infrequent uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking socially and smoking cigarettes.
Page last updated November 23, 2022
Devotion Parents' Guide
Why is the Korean War referred to as a “forgotten war”? How was the war seen at the time? How is it seen now? What were the costs of the war to UN member states? What were the costs in Korea? How is the legacy of that war still influencing geopolitics in the region? What other conflicts have been largely ignored or forgotten?
Wikipedia: Korean War
The New York Times: Korean War, a “Forgotten” Conflict That Shaped the Modern World
If you’re wondering how accurately Devotion depicts history, you can check the following articles.
History vs Hollywood: Devotion (2022)
We are the Mighty: The incredible true story behind the upcoming Korean War movie “Devotion”
Loved this movie? Try these books…
If you want to learn more about Jesse Brown, you can read The Flight of Jesse Leroy Brown by Theodore Taylor.
This film is based on the book Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos.
For more information about the Korean War, there are a number of options. For a broad look with deep background, you can read Sheila Miyoshi Jager’s Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea. In The Korean War, Max Hastings uses first person interviews with veterans and Koreans to make history personal and readable. You can try The War Before Vietnam by Callum MacDonald, which draws parallels between the two wars. For more exhaustive detail, David Halberstam offers The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War.