Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says OK for kids 10+
Violent but beloved old-school monster movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know about abundant violence, not only monster-on-monster fights (inevitably ending in death for one of the combatants), and also that many innocent bystanders are brutally killed, both in the jungle and in New York City. The natives (who are black) are portrayed as face-painted, bone-wearing tribesmen.
- Families can talk about how later generations of admirers read a lot of messages into this movie about civilization vs. the primal jungle, about the poignancy of the tropical ape-giant brought captive to modern Manhattan.
- The old-fashioned point-of-view here doesn't seem to make any obvious objections to the brash white-hunter heroes and their not-very-scientific mission. You can ask kids if they think Kong is a sympathetic character who should have been left alone or a raging monster who had to be destroyed, and compare Kong to the genetically-engineered dinosaurs of the "Jurassic Park" series.
The good stuff
Positive messages: There is an argument to be made about the plundering of nature for man's consumption as an underlying theme, but most of this is drowned out by the consistent violence, offensive stereotypes, and dodgy special effects. Watch it for what it is, a classic Hollywood monster flick, but don't hope to learn anything from it.
Positive role models: Heroine Anne Darrow is a helpless figure throughout, needing rescuing by both man and ape. Though initially woman-hating, sailor Jack Driscoll turns into a fearless savior for the heroine. The other white male characters come across to modern viewers as pretty exploitive and insensitive. The black extras lean heavily toward barely differentiated native-savage stereotypes.
What to watch for
Violence: Frequent peril for the ever-screaming heroine. Considerable monster-on-monster fighting, not to mention human beings being stomped into the ground, flung to their deaths, trampled and even chewed by dinosaurs and other primordial creatures. A streetcar crash is caused by Kong, and the giant ape is himself jabbed with spears and knives, and peppered with gunfire from planes before he falls to his doom.
Sexy stuff: Kong peels the clothes off his female captive. He seems to stop at her underwear, but a minor furor over the scene in bygone days has given rise to urban legends of censored sequences with more explicit nudity.
Language: Not an issue
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue