[Screen It]


(2001) (Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale) (PG-13)

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Drama/Action: The lives of two pilots and the one nurse they both love become tangled and then changed forever when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
It's 1941, most of the world is at war, and Rafe McCawley (BEN AFFLECK) and Danny Walker (JOSH HARTNETT) are lifelong friends who grew up together and are now pilots in the U.S. Army Air Corps. While Danny is somewhat reserved, Rafe is charmingly cocky, a factor that not only wins the heart of Navy nurse Evelyn Johnson (KATE BECKINSALE), but also draws the attention of James H. Doolittle (ALEC BALDWIN), a forty-five-year-old officer who informs the young pilot that he's been accepted to join Britain's RAF in fighting the Germans.

Thus, while Danny and his comrades, including Red (EWEN BREMNER), head off to be stationed in Pearl Harbor, as do Evelyn and fellow nurses Betty (JAMES KING), Barbara (CATHERINE KELLNER) and Sandra (JENNIFER GARNER), Rafe ends up in a European dogfight where he's shot down and reportedly killed in action.

As Danny comforts Evelyn in her time of grief over that news, little does anyone know that Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (MAKO) is planning a surprise attack on the Pacific Fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor. That's despite the efforts of Navy Department cryptologist Captain Thurman (DAN AYKROYD) who tries to convince President Roosevelt (JON VOIGHT) and others that an attack may be imminent.

Danny and Evelyn unexpectedly become lovers, a point that becomes complicated when Rafe suddenly reappears on the scene. Before they can resolve their romantic triangle, however, the Japanese attack Pearl, and the three, among with many others including Doris "Dorie" Miller (CUBA GOODING, JR.), a navy cook, and Earl (TOM SIZEMORE), an airfield mechanic, find themselves suddenly thrust into WWII.

As Danny and Rafe eventually take to the air to battle the Japanese fighters and Evelyn tends to the many wounded who come streaming into her hospital, the three try to sort out their romantic quandary, all while dealing with the aftermath of the attack that includes Doolittle leading a top secret retaliatory mission over Tokyo.

Since it's the big action film of the summer, it's a good bet many of them will, particularly if they're fans of anyone in the cast.
For sustained intense war sequences, images of wounded, brief sensuality and some language.
  • BEN AFFLECK plays a cocky and daring pilot who falls for Evelyn, but goes off to fight in Britain where he's shot down and presumed dead. When he returns, he must contend with the subsequent romance between Evelyn and Danny as well as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, during which he shows great courage.
  • JOSH HARTNETT plays his best friend who becomes involved with his girlfriend several months after Rafe's reported death (and they have sex). When Rafe returns, he must deal with the awkward love triangle as well as the attack during which he also shows bravery.
  • KATE BECKINSALE plays the nurse who unexpectedly finds herself in a romantic triangle with two best friends and must then deal with that, her unplanned pregnancy and the numerous wounded after the surprise attack.
  • CUBA GOODING, JR. plays an African-American cook who mans an anti-aircraft gun during the attack.
  • TOM SIZEMORE plays an airfield mechanic who assists Rafe and Danny in their attempt to take flight during the attack.
  • JON VOIGHT plays President Roosevelt who tries to lead the nation during the unexpected time of crisis.
  • ALEC BALDWIN plays the legendary Jimmy Doolittle who leads various pilots on a dangerous mission to bomb Tokyo. He uses some profanity.
  • EWEN BREMNER plays one of the squadron members who stutters and falls for one of the nurses.
  • MAKO plays the Japanese Admiral who commands the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • JAMES KING plays a nurse who falls for Red.
  • DAN AYKROYD plays a cryptologist who becomes concerned about the Japanese messages he's intercepted and is studying. He uses some profanity.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this dramatic action film that's been rated PG-13. All sorts of war-related mayhem, destruction and death earn the "Violence" and "Frightening/Tense Scene" categories extreme ratings. The attack on Pearl Harbor lasts more than 30 minutes and shows many people being wounded or killed and many ships, planes and buildings, etc. being bombed, torpedoed or strafed with machine gun fire (although most of that occurs without the level of graphic violence as was present in "Saving Private Ryan"). Such violence, and other instances of wartime action will be tense or unsettling for many viewers, as might the sight of many injured and bloody people. Other non-lethal, non-war related violence is present, including a barroom type brawl.

    A couple fools around as they prepare to have sex (which leaves the woman pregnant) and we see some non-explicit skin along with passionate/sensuous kissing. Other sexual encounters are implied and some non-explicit, sexually related dialogue is present. Parts of several men's bare butts are briefly seen in nonsexual scenes. Profanity consists of a possible "f" word, along with at least 8 "s" words and other expletives, while a few colorful phrases are also used. Various characters smoke and drink (with one appearing a bit intoxicated), and the Japanese as a whole have bad attitudes for attacking the U.S.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for more specific examples of what occurs in the film.

  • Rafe opens some champagne for Evelyn and himself.
  • Various people drink at a dance.
  • We briefly see Red and Betty holding some glasses of champagne or booze.
  • Rafe mentions drinking beer with two pilots who were later killed in action. We later see a beer in front of Rafe as he writes a letter (and a British officer who walks up carries a beer).
  • Danny and others drinks shots of liquor in honor of another pilot.
  • Rafe appears somewhat intoxicated as he drinks beer and shots of liquor with other men.
  • Japanese pilots toast their upcoming mission with what's presumably alcohol.
  • We see dried blood splatter inside the cockpit window of a fighter plane.
  • We see what looks like some blood on a man's shirt as he boxes with another man. Later, Evelyn stitches up a cut on the side of Dorie's face (from that boxing match).
  • Danny has a little bit of a bloody lip after being punched.
  • During and after the attack on Pearl, we see many wounded or dead people who are bloody to varying degrees. Many dead people are seen in the water, blood spurts out of one man's neck wound, blood runs from another man's hand and Evelyn has blood all over her uniform. We later see a great deal of blood on the hospital floor.
  • We see blood flowing into empty Coke bottles as Rafe and Danny donate blood for the wounded.
  • A wounded pilot is somewhat bloody (and we see what looks like some shrapnel sticking out of his neck) and we later see some slightly bloody bullet hole wounds in his outfit.
  • The Japanese as a whole obviously have both for their sneak attack on the U.S. base (although the film treats them with kid gloves and none beyond the Admiral are portrayed as anything but background characters).
  • Some viewers may take offense to Americans calling the Japanese "Japs."
  • Rafe "borrows" a small police boat so that he and Evelyn can have some private time, and Danny latter does the same with a military plane.
  • Some may see Danny and Evelyn as having both for getting involved with each other after Rafe's reported death (many months earlier).
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" - particularly all of the wartime action (and the prolonged attack sequence on Pearl where people are killed or nearly killed) and later scenes in the hospital with the many wounded and dying people - will probably also be rather tense or unsettling for many viewers.
  • As young boys back in the '20s, Rafe and Danny play in a plane that they end up starting. It then heads down the runway out of control as they try to stop it.
  • Rafe's fighter is hit and he finds himself trapped inside it with a fire and a faulty ejection mechanism as it careens toward the water.
  • Danny and Rafe try to get into the air during the attack and once they do, they must contend with various Japanese fighters that are on their tails, trying to shoot them.
  • Danny, Rafe and many others try to rescue the men trapped inside the damaged and/or sinking ships (and we see them holding the hands of one man that they can't save and who presumably drowns).
  • Various U.S. bombers encounter massive amounts of anti-aircraft fire and then barely make it to the coast where they crash land. The survivors then encounter hostile Japanese forces that open fire on them and eventually take some of them hostage before more fighting and several more deaths occur.
  • Planes/Bombers/Torpedoes/Battleships/Machine guns/Anti-aircraft guns/Shotguns/Rifles/Grenade: Used to fire at and destroy ships, planes and buildings and/or threaten, wound or kill many people.
  • A tank is briefly seen firing in some newsreel footage.
  • Phrases: "Bullsh*t," "What the hell /are you doing?" "You're such an idiot" (what Danny says to himself), "Beat the crap out of him," "Bastards" and "Take a piss."
  • Although kids probably don't have access to planes in which to play "chicken" (as Rafe and Danny do), they might get the idea to do the same and apply it to some other mode of transportation.
  • The guys talk about a way of getting the women to be with them for the night by putting some clove oil just below their own eyes to make them teary and then give the ladies a sob story about the dangers of war so that the women will feel sorry for them.
  • Rafe tries to cheat on his eye exam by having memorized the line he's supposed to read and having Danny help him by whispering from behind.
  • None.
  • A mild amount of suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • None.
  • There's 1 possible "f" word (but it was hard to tell if that's what was said), along with at least 8 "s" words, 1 slang term for sex ("doing"), 1 slang term for breasts ("t*tties"), 9 damns, 6 S.O.B.s, 3 hells, 2 craps, 1 ass, 9 uses of "G-damn," 6 of "Oh my God," 5 of "God," 4 of "Oh God," 3 of "My God," 2 of "Jesus" and 1 use of "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • We see the top of Red's bare butt as he walks away rubbing it after getting a shot there. We then hear Evelyn comment that Rafe had a cute butt (after giving him a shot there).
  • After Rafe starts to act groggy after receiving one too many shots, he mistakenly says something about that he could lick Evelyn (when he meant to say "like you").
  • Rafe and Evelyn briefly kiss. Later, when they dance, he has his hand down on her clothed butt.
  • After one of the guys tries manipulating a young woman into being with him for the night, she says, "Dry our eyes, toots, tonight you're mine."
  • Rafe and Evelyn make out again. Later, the two of them go to a hotel presumably to have sex (as do others), but he then changes his mind before they get past the lobby, stating that he doesn't want to do anything that she'll later regret (although he says he'd like to do what they were planning to do).
  • A person comments on "t*tties" being painted on the side of a plane and something about them being lopsided, but all we see is a clothed woman being painted on the craft.
  • We see the side of a man's bare butt as he lies on a hospital bed.
  • We see Evelyn wearing something resembling a bikini top.
  • One of the nurses talks about getting her slate (of sexual behavior) wiped clean at church and then being curious about how she's going to dirty it up again.
  • One of the men states that if he were Rafe (who's presumed dead), he'd be upset to find that his best friend was "doing" his girlfriend (referring to Danny and Evelyn).
  • Danny and Evelyn make out in a parachute hangar and he then lies down on top of her (still fully clothed). Moments later, we see more passionate/sensuous kissing and see that he's shirtless and she appears to be in her bra. She then moves on top of him and they then reverse that where we then see him nuzzling her shoulder. It's implied that they have sex and we later learn that she's pregnant from this encounter.
  • We see Evelyn in a bikini-like top, and she and Danny kiss.
  • We see a small cloth covering a Japanese pilot's crotch as he gets dressed.
  • Various miscellaneous characters smoke (cigarettes, cigars and pipes), while we also see FDR smoking.
  • Some victory cigars are passed out among crewmembers before a mission.
  • We see some people who are presumably various family members (as well as friends, etc.) standing amongst a large number of coffins in a hangar.
  • The real life incident at Pearl Harbor and the events leading up to it.
  • The way the Japanese are portrayed in the film (in a politically correct fashion).
  • Whether Danny and Evelyn were in the wrong for becoming romantically involved months after hearing that Rafe was reported dead.
  • In a scene set in the past, a father backhands his son for endangering his life (by playing in and starting a plane). When that father starts to drag the boy away, another boy rushes up and hits the father on the head with a board, knocking him to the ground.
  • Apparently reacting to getting a double dose of some shot/inoculation, Rafe stumbles and then falls, hitting his nose on a nearby cart. Later, the cork from a champagne bottle hits him there as well.
  • We see some newsreel footage of bombs exploding on the ground and planes being hit by machine gun fire.
  • We see various planes involved in wartime dogfights (with machine guns firing and planes being shot down and/or exploding).
  • RAF fighters attack German bombers, strafing them with machine gun fire. Meanwhile, Rafe's fighter is hit and eventually crashes into the water (presumably killing him).
  • Dorie and another boxer deliver plenty of hard-hitting blows to one another in a boxing ring.
  • Some newsreel footage shows various RAF fighter planes crashing during combat.
  • Rafe and Danny get into a fight over Evelyn (with Rafe punching Danny who then drives him back through a railing) that then leads to a larger, barroom brawl type fight among many other men.
  • In a very long sequence, the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and drop many bombs and torpedoes on the Pacific fleet, blowing up many ships and planes and killing many people. They also do the same to many buildings and other structures and strafe all of the above with machine gun fire. During this, many people are killed (by explosions, machine gun fire, drowning, planes crashing, etc.), but most of the deaths are not graphic in a "Saving Private Ryan" sense (in order to maintain the PG-13 rating), although some appear to be "vaporized" by some of the explosions. The Americans also fire back (with anti-aircraft guns, machine guns and various handheld weapons) hitting some of the Japanese planes, and Danny and Rafe finally make it into the air (after other pilots and their planes are shot and/or blown up) and shoot down several enemy aircraft and cause others to crash into each other.
  • U.S. forces open fire on some enemy ships (but we don't see any impact).
  • U.S. bombers drop bombs on various buildings in Japan, blowing them up and presumably killing some/many people. Anti-aircraft fire then hits the bombers and people are wounded or killed.
  • A bomber crashes in a rice paddy and the survivors get into a gun battle with Japanese forces. Another bomber strafes the Japanese before crashing (and wounding or killing some of its crew).
  • A Japanese soldier hits an American pilot on the head and others hold rifles on other Americans that they take prisoner. That pilot then grabs a gun and shoots several soldiers dead, while another pilot hits another soldier with the wooden beam to which he's tied. That man is then mortally wounded by gunfire (he doesn't die right away), others are shot and a grenade explodes, killing several more people.

  • Reviewed May 22, 2001 / Posted May 25, 2001

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