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The African Queen Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 11+

Hepburn and Bogart shine in this odd couple adventure.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this WWI romantic comedy-adventure has a troubling threat of death-by-execution for the main characters. There is light violence in the form of gunfire and dangerous river rapids. Squeamish moments involve blood-sucking leeches and, to a lesser extent, a painful mosquito swarm. As with most old-school movies set in Africa, black natives are unimportant compared to the white-European folk -- but at least they aren't treated with contempt or mockery.

  • Families can talk about the reason that German troops were in Africa in the 1900s.
  • Families can also talk about what makes a compelling love story. Is the "opposites attract" premise just more fun? Do you prefer stories of first love or is it more compelling with more mature characters?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Love-story message of a greatest possible "opposites attract" variety, with staid, spinsterish Rose falling in love with ill-mannered, hard-drinking Charlie, and the two learning to appreciate and respect each other. Secondary theme about striving against near-impossible odds to fight tyrannical enemies.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Both Charlie and Rose are flawed but heroic characters. Charlie drinks too much and is generally uncouth; Rose is a little snobbish, but by the end they've proven their worth and thoroughly won each other over. Rose and her brother are brittle Methodist missionaries, fish-out-of-water puritans in the primitive African jungles. The script stops short of depicting them and their Bible lessons as intrusive and ineffective, but slovenly Charlie seems better adapted to the environment and culture. Black tribal Africans are mostly passive background characters, though at least not made comical.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: A hail of gunfire. German soldiers bully people (one dies offscreen) and burn a grass-hut village. A threatened execution by hanging. Icky scene of Charlie plagued by blood-sucking leeches. Talk of torpedoes and bomb-building.

  • sex false1

    Sex: Very mild suggestion that Charlie and Rose sleep together. Rose seems to be naked when bathing in the river (but actually she's covered with a slip).

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: A novel of the same name by C.S. Forester exists but has been completely overshadowed by the movie adaptation.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Charlie smokes cigars and drinks gin, finally to the point of drunkenness. Rose disapproves of alcohol, sending his stash into the river.