Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says OK for kids 16+
Rollicking, biting, satirical classic is so 1970.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this classic film is excellent -- and also shows the marks of its time (1970) and the era in which it was set (the Korean War in the 1950s) with considerable sexist, racist, and xenophobic behavior. Hawkeye and Trapper John sexually harass Hoolihan because she disagrees with their free-wheeling behavior. Duke calls a black neurosurgeon a "negro boy" and Hawkeye and Trapper John speak gibberish Japanese. There's also considerable sex and brief nudity, as well as lots of surgery-related blood and gore.
- Families can talk about the role of satire in American culture. How is this film a satire of war? What's fun about satire and what's not? What other movies use biting satire to make an important point? Do they do it as well as this movie does?
The good stuff
Positive messages: Trapper John and Hawkeye are sexist: Trapper John calling Hot Lips a "sultry bitch" and demand she be stripped naked and brought to him. He also asks for a nurse "who knows how to work in close without getting her tits in my way." Duke doesn't want to share his bunk with a black man, calling him a "negro boy." When one character thinks he might be gay, they call him a "fairy" and a "raging queen" and joke that he's okay because "he hasn't started raping anyone yet." They both speak gibberish Japanese when they land in Japan. They drug the star football players to win. They gamble and Hawkeye steals a Jeep.
What to watch for
Violence: Lots of emergency room blood: spurting blood, bloody body parts, sawing body parts. A doctor wants to kill himself because he thinks he's gay. Trapper John hits Burns. Burns attacks Hawkeye. Some football violence, including tackling and players being carted off the field on stretchers.
Sexy stuff: Lots of bawdy talk about brothels, masterbation, penis size, and lots of sexual comments about the female nurses on base. The guys rig it so Hoolihan exposes herself to the whole camp. Burns and Hoolihan have sex and their sounds are broadcast across the camp, Hawkeye has sex with a married nurse and encourages her to have sex with a man who thinks he's gay to "cure" him. Col. Blake is shown in bed with a much younger nurse.
Language: Considerable swearing, including "f--k," "hell," "son of a bitch," "ass," "dammit," "bitch," "goddamn" and "tits."
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Considerable drinking and some smoking. Hawkeye and Trapper John drink martinis. Hawkeye talks about drinking gin and scotch separately. It's implied that characters are using speed. Everyone drinks beer. Football players are high.